Top Headline Comments 4-21-14
Yesterday, the GAO released details on how Sec. Sebelius shook down outside companies for funding to promote Obamacare.
From Jim Geraghty's Morning Jolt (which you should subscribe to, if you aren't), about half of Georgia's healthcare sign-ups haven't paid.
More evidence that GM got kid glove treatment from federal regulators.
Unions are warming up to fracking.
Snowden's feelings are hurt that everyone thinks he's such a naif.
Gov. Perry's "makeover" is noticed by Politico. "He just seems like a very confident, upbeat and articulate spokesman for conservative policy and values," says former Perry staffer.
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Overnight Open Thread (4-20-2014)
"LITTLE HITLERS: There is, as every petty official knows, a great deal of pleasure to be had from the obstruction of others, especially if they appear to be more fortunate, better placed, richer, or more intelligent than oneself. There is a pleasure in naysaying, all the greater if the naysayer is able to disguise from the victim the fact that he is not only doing his duty but gratifying himself. Indeed, there are many jobs, meaningless in themselves, in which the power to say no is the only non-monetary reward."
The program is supposedly only for citizens or legal resident aliens, but in reality no one's checking. It will all run on the honor system, at the insistence of the dishonorable. The taxpayer will be robbed blind and anyone who doesn't like it is a bad Christian, anti-American, and of course racist.
After his prepared remarks, Scalia took questions from eager law students who lined the aisles of the theatre. His remarks there were more candid, pointing to the Washington, D.C. v. Heller opinon - a second-amendment case - as his proudest moment on the court.
When another students asked about the constitutionality of income tax, he assured the student that the government could, in fact, take his money.
"But if reaches certain point, perhaps you should revolt," Scalia advised the young man.
61% say President Obama lies either "most of the time" or "some of the time," with a plurality of 37% opting for "most of the time."
But not among their staff.
Media Matters for America is apparently resisting an effort by Service Employees International Union Local 500 to unionize its staff.
Last week, the union filed a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board, indicating that the nonprofit media watchdog organization rejected an effort by the union to organize MMFA's staff through a Card Check election....MMFA has regularly presented itself as a supporter of organized labor. It has argued that "economists point to declining union participation as one cause of the growing economic rift in America" and claimed it was a fact that "unions increase productivity [and] do not reduce business competitiveness."
So why the objection, MM?
- The Italian Tourist Board spends an astounding 98 percent of its budget on salaries, with basically nothing left for its actual job of tourism promotion.
- There are trains in the Mezzogiorno that travel at an average speed of 8.7 miles an hour.
- Metaponto, in the Basilicata region east of Naples, has a five-track, marble-clad rail station, paid for by $25 million in European Union funds. But the last train out is an 8:21 a.m. express to Rome. If you want to go anywhere else, you have to take a bus.
A new product that's somehow been approved by US regulators makes booze as discreet as a packet of sugar. It's called Palcohol, and it transforms a shot of vodka or rum into a pocketable pouch of powder. Tear it open, add some water, mix, and you've got hard liquor. Considering the age group that Palcohol is going to appeal to, however, the sweet, pre-mixed powders are probably going to be far more popular. To start off, the company plans to make margarita, mojito, cosmopolitan, and lemon drop flavors.
Thank you FDA for solving a non-existent problem and costing everyone money.
Eventually, we conservatives grow comfortable enough around them to return to our old patterns. We scratch and fight and do our gorilla things and the chronicler dutifully takes notes. The notes eventually make their way into an article for the New York Times or The New Yorker or Vanity Fair.
"Who knew?" the readers will say over their morning bagels and coffee in Southampton or Fire Island, "I had no idea conservatives were such intelligent creatures. Why they even have the capacity for emotion and even some rudimentary forms of kindness."
Thanks to tmi3rd.
All are fascinating but Detroit's Michigan Central Station may be the most magnificent and saddest of all.
Top 10 commenters:
1 [344 comments] 'Vic' [48.29 posts/day]
2 [318 comments] 'Costanza Defense'
3 [311 comments] 'Anna Puma (+SmuD)'
4 [292 comments] 'Boss Moss'
5 [258 comments] 'Niedermeyer's Dead Horse'
6 [253 comments] 'rickb223'
7 [244 comments] 'Mike Hammer'
8 [241 comments] 'Misanthropic Humanitarian '
9 [231 comments] 'thunderb'
10 [230 comments] 'RWC'
Top 10 sockpuppeteers:
1 [94 names] 'The Political Hat' [13.19 unique names/day]
2 [53 names] 'Adam'
3 [44 names] 'Brandon In Baton Rouge'
4 [42 names] 'Cicero (@cicero)'
5 [42 names] 'Obama For-ks America'
6 [36 names] 'Romeo13'
7 [29 names] 'andycanuck'
8 [29 names] 'Prez'nit 404'
9 [29 names] 'Hate Miser'
10 [28 names] '18-1'
The group. Yeah.
Where it's at - the Twitter
Tonight's post brought to you by Happy Easter:
Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips to maetenloch at gmail. Otherwise send tips to Ace.
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New Takes On An Old Classic Open Thread - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]
Courtesy of Weird News:
Sir Mix-A-Lot is a musical genius. When he created "Baby Got Back" in 1992, he crafted a musical masterpiece that can be recreated in any genre without losing a beat.
Like your big butts in jazz? There's a "Baby Got Back" for that.
Easy listening? Here's some mellow big butts for you.
Prefer metal? Try this one.
Then again, does anything beat the original?
Gun Thread (4-20-2014)
Civil Disobedience In NY
There is one purpose for a gun registry. One.
Good on the folks in NY who've decided to not give the state the rope with which to hang them.
Owners of assault-style weapons were supposed to have registered their guns by Tuesday.
But there is no way of knowing exactly how many of these weapons there are in the state and how many were registered under the NY SAFE Act.
The state refuses to say how many were registered, claiming it is confidential information protected by the law.
Gun-rights advocates estimate compliance will be less than 10 percent.
And in Erie County, the sheriff says he will not force his deputies to enforce registration.
Crazy Rednecks Bring Evil NRA Into Schools To Teach Kids About Guns
Guess the state.
Former schoolteacher Marilyn Frank has big plans for firearms-safety education in town.
Frank, 79, who served in the school district for 29 years and for a decade as health-education coordinator, said she doesn't own a gun but she wants to help remove polarization around the subject of gun safety. In December, she proposed bringing the National Rifle Association-sponsored program Eddie Eagle back to the local elementary schools. The program, approved by the School Committee, will start early next month.
"You want everyone to buy into this. I think this is a message that everyone can come together for, caring about the kids," she said. "That was what this is all about. Are we going to save anybody? I don't know. But when I put in birth- control explanations (in the schools), I didn't promise nobody would get pregnant. You don't know, but you just hope."
Turns out there are still a few sane people in Westford, MA after all.
Gun Of The Week
Gun Of The Week - Answer
That's the Winchester Model 61 "Takedown" .22 pump-action rifle.
Hickock45 shoots the Ruger SR 762.
If there are topics you're interested in seeing in the gun thread, please send them to AoSHQGunThread at gmail. You can also send them to me on Twitter at @AndyM1911.
The owner's manual for your concealed carry permit: The Law of Self Defense
Celebrate America's firearms heritage: participate in Project Appleseed.
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Food Thread: Baking: It's Not Science....It's Magic [CBD]
We Politely Request That All Off-Topic or Political Comments Be Directed to the Thread Directly Below This One, Which Will Serve Officially as the Current "Active Conversation" Thread for All Discussions Not Related To This Topic.
The conventional wisdom is that cooking is an art and baking is a science -- requiring precision and consistency and rigid attention to detail. And if you satisfy those requirements you will be rewarded with marvelous crusty breads and glorious cakes and you will be the marvel of the neighborhood.
It's a dirty filthy stinking lie, perpetrated by an unholy cabal of flour mills and sugar barons and the natural gas industry.
Any variation in humidity, temperature, density of flour, potency of yeast, and dozens of other things can, and often does make a huge difference in the final product. That's why accomplished bakers will add extra water, or a pinch less of yeast or salt, or knead it for a few more minutes or let it proof at a warmer temperature for just a few minutes less.....
And why is that? How do they know? Because they made a pact with the devil. In return for baking those scrumptious, yeasty sourdough loaves and incredible dinner rolls that are just perfect with the sauce and a dab of good butter, they will toil in the third circle of hell for eternity.
And what makes me think of glorious baked goods and the soulless monsters who bake them?
And the extremely crappy matzoh I bought.
I usually buy an Israeli brand that is actually rather good, but I couldn't find any this year, so I settled for something baked in the People's Republic of New York City. In the hipster heaven of Brooklyn no less.
Awful. Redolent of cardboard.
So of course I stole a box from my parents, but still, Passover is eight days long, and nowhere in the story does one box of matzoh last for eight days.
But how tough could baking matzoh be? There is no yeast, there is no rise, there is nothing but a mandated 18 minute maximum time for the entire process. Yet somehow bakers manage to screw it up.
So I tried. And guess what? it is easy, fun, and makes great matzoh! I used a pizza stone, which I think is much better than the recommended bottom of a sheet pan. But other than that...I just followed the recipe -- sort of -- and the results are much better than any commercial stuff I have ever had.
(If anyone wants the modified recipe, e-mail me at nynjmeet at optimum dot net.)
This baguette recipe is modified from the King Arthur Flour recipe I found on their web site. The original did not yield a particularly lofty or airy bread; it was too dense to be called a baguette. So I changed it to a longer, colder rise, and that worked well.
• 1/2 cup cool water
• 1/16 teaspoon active dry yeast or instant yeast
• 1 cup unbleached bread flour
• 1 teaspoon active dry yeast or instant yeast
• 1 cup to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water*
• all of the starter
• 3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
• 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt, to taste
• *Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.
Make the starter by mixing the yeast with the water (no need to do this if you're using instant yeast), then mixing in the flour to make a soft dough. Cover and let rest at room temperature for about 14 hours; overnight works well. The starter should have risen and become bubbly. If it hasn't, your yeast may not be working. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of yeast in 1 tablespoon lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar, and wait 15 minutes. If nothing happens, replace your yeast, and begin the starter process again.
If you're using active dry yeast, mix it with the water, then combine with the starter, flour, and salt. If you're using instant yeast, there's no need to combine it with the water first. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you've made a soft, somewhat smooth dough; it should be cohesive, but the surface may still be a bit rough. Knead for about 5 minutes on speed 2 of a stand mixer
Place the dough in a lightly greased medium-size bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for one hour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into three equal pieces.
Shape each piece into a rough, slightly flattened oval, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let them rest for 15 minutes.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges with the heel of your hand. Flatten it slightly, and fold and seal again.
With the seam-side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the dough into a 15" log. Place the logs seam-side down onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined sheet pan.
Cover them with a cover or lightly greased plastic wrap, place in the refrigerator, and allow the loaves to rise overnight till they've become very puffy.
Remove from refrigerator at least two hours before baking to complete the rise.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450°F.
Using a very sharp knife held at about a 45° angle, make three 8" vertical slashes in each baguette. Spritz the baguettes heavily with warm water; this will help them develop a crackly-crisp crust.
Bake the baguettes until they're a very deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack. Or, for the very crispiest baguettes, turn off the oven, crack it open about 2", and allow the baguettes to cool in the oven.
Yield: Three 16" baguettes.
Close it up
Open Thread (reserved for politics) [CBD]
Or Haikus...whichever you prefer.
An interesting perspective of Barry Goldwater from one of his campaign ads in 1964.
Gaming Thread 4/20/2014 (Easter Edition)
—Gang of Gaming Morons!
• Marty O'Donnell, Bungie's composer of the last 15 years went to Twitter to say that he had been fired by Bungie without cause. As much as I wouldn't mind him going to 343 to work again on Halo, I'd prefer him to end up at Visceral to work on the upcoming Star Wars games. And of course, it didn't take long for forum warriors to jump on the news and crap on his work because he's conservative-ish.
• NPD numbers for last month is in. PS4 outsold the Xbox One (ouch for Microsoft) and TitanFall was the best selling game (no shocker there). For year over year, software was in a huge slump, even with an avalanche of games with a 28% drop.
• Cyanide showing off their upcoming Blood Bowl 2. I thought the first games were pretty good (but no FUMBBL) that were hampered by a lack of care with releasing so many standalone versions of the first game. If they had treated it as a platform with DLC for the new teams instead of what they did, I would have been more of a fan.
• DC has shown off a trailer for their upcoming Batman movie based on the Arkham videogame universe. Personally don't think it looks good
• Activision does Xbox One owners a solid? Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn't coming to the XBox One. Considering that this is more than likely certification issues, I'm curious in how bad of a state this game is. And it's not like it's been looking hot in the previews. Be interesting in seeing how this is received next week.
• Why? Why Not. COD: Ghosts is getting a Snoop voice pack (They're also working on a Gunny voice pack as well).
Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure (PC) - Sixteen years later and Tex Murphy is still roaming the mean post-nuclear streets of San Francisco. Do you like cheese? Do you like a good FMV point and click adventure game? Well, Chris Jones is hopping that you remember Under The Killing Moon and Pandora Directive in this latest Kickstarter backed project. The cast includes Todd Bridges, June Lockhart, Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo) and others. Sadly Clint Howard isn't listed :(
Blackwell Epiphany (PC) - It's the end of the line for Rosa Blackwell and Joey Mallone in the final entry of the Blackwell series. Dave Gilbert and his crew at Wadjet has created a great little hard boiled paranormal series over the last 8 years in a 16-bit world. When it comes to point&click adventure games, it's hard to beat what Wadjet has created themselves or released. As always, expect some good writing and decent puzzles. I'll probably pick up the new Tex Murphy due to nostalgia but I'm more interested in this to be honest.
Demon Gaze (Vita) - NISA releasing a first person dungeon crawler by Kadokawa Games. Don't know much about it other than it's supposed to be pretty decent and it sold like crap in Japan. And like all games from NISA that isn't Disgaea, it's price will drop fast or go out of print.
Close it up
Soon To Be Stomped Open Thread
Here's a distraction until content is posted.
Sunday Morning Book Thread 04-20-2014: The Day The World Changed Forever [OregonMuse]
Good morning morons and moronettes and welcome to AoSHQ's prestigious Sunday Morning Book Thread.
He Is Risen!
Jesus Christ walked onto the stage of world history 2,000 years ago, and is never leaving it. To be sure, it is very easy to imagine a future history where the Church is either absent or totally irrelevant (and there have been many books written along those lines), that's never going to happen. The gospel of Jesus Christ is so powerful, that His followers can exist even in the most hostile environments, i.e. there are churches in Saudi Arabia and North Korea. Granted, they're small and pretty much entirely underground. But they survive. They know they're in a spiritual battle:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Many have lost their lives for the cause of Christ. For example, remember the movie 'Chariots of Fire', about that Olympic athlete who wouldn't run on Sunday? Eric Liddell was his name, and perhaps you don't know that he went on to become a missionary to China, and he died in a Japanese internment camp, where he was ministering to the other prisoners during WW2. There have been a number of biographies written about Liddell, but grammie winger recommends Complete Surrender: A biography of Eric Liddell, by Julian Wilson.
Another interesting character is the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas is a good modern biography. Christians classify Bonhoeffer as a martyr, but I have difficulty with this. What got him in trouble with the authorities was not anything that Christians are traditionally martyred for, i.e. being told not to preach the gospel but preaching anyway, or refusing to worship the leader of the state as divine. Rather, Bonhoeffer was arrested for his active participation in a plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler, and that's why the Nazi government killed him. In my opinion, murdering a political leader is difficult to justify under any flavor of Christian theology, and Bonhoeffer is no longer around to tell us why he thought what he was doing was right, given his understanding of the gospel. That is, I assume he thought it was right, I can't imagine him thinking, "yeah, this is wrong, but we have to do it, anyway." Read his books, The Cost of Discipleship or Life Together or even Letters and Papers from Prison and ask yourself if anything he wrote would lead you to understand how he would ever participate in such an obviously "battling against flesh and blood using worldly weapons" political plot.
I confess I don't understand.
I'm not saying what Bonhoeffer did was wrong. Perhaps it was. But even if not, I just have a hard time thinking of him as a martyr, at least as traditionally understood, like the kind of martyrs described in Foxe's Book of Martyrs, which, being in the public domain, is available on Kindle for $0.
Bonhoeffer was executed on April 9th, 1945. He could probably hear the artillery from the approaching Allied armies, who were only a few days away from liberating the camp he was in.
The internationally renowned Colombian novelist, screenwriter, journalist and 1982 Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez has died at the age of 87. He was most famous for his novels One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera, and The Autumn of the Patriarch.
I've never read any of his books.
Here's an interesting bit from the wikipedia bio:
The popularity of his writing also led to friendships with powerful leaders, including one with former Cuban president Fidel Castro...It was during this time that he was punched in the face by Mario Vargas Llosa in what became one of the largest feuds in modern literature.
Ha! A rat bastard commie gets popped in the puss. I would like to have seen that.
The First Emoticon?
This guy thinks he's found the earliest use of what are now called emoticons:
Tumble me down and I will sit Upon my ruines (smiling yet: ) Tear me to tatters; yet I'le be Patient in my necessitie. Laugh at my scraps of cloaths, and shun Me, as a fear'd infection: Yet scarre-crow-like I'le walk, as one, Neglecting thy derision.
I know it could just be a colon inside a parenthesis. In fact, that's what it probably is. But it does seem oddly coincidental that it occurs in a "smiling" context.
This article in Slate takes a different view. I'm not a big fan of Slate, but I was impressed that their response to the "first emoticon" claim contained some actual journalism.
A Cheap e-Book Notification Service
I absolutely hate paying $13.99 and $14.99 for Kindle or Nook books, and so I will do anything not to have to. Like many of you, I'm on the "Daily Kindle Deal" mailing list from Amazon, the one that Vic regularly posts to the morning news thread, and while I'm glad Amazon at least makes the effort, I rarely see anything I'm interested in.
But just yesterday as I was perusing teh internets looking for book thread material, I stumbled upon The Book Bub, a service you can sign up for, which compiles a list of free or low-cost e-books from a number of different sources such as Amazon, B&N, Kobe, Smashwords, etc. Once you've signed up, you can select which categories of books you're interested in, so you can stop from being deluged with, say, paranormal romance novels. The e-mail alerts will be structured according to your preferences, which you can change any time on the Book Bub site. Also, the individual listings will tell you the date the deal expires.
And the service is free.
Haven't Read It, But Looks Like It Might Be Interesting
The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis by Thomas Goetz. From one of the 5-star Amazon reviews:
What a satisfying read! This book is great - it has amazing historical sweep on the development of the germ theory (fascinating) and the various personalities involved (Pasteur-the original germaphobe and many others), mini-novelistic biographies on two titans (Koch in science and Conan Doyle in literature), their conflict over tuberculosis, and the impacts this incredible disease had on both men and the society they lived in. The Remedy is engaging, amazing storytelling, I learned a ton, and I recommend it highly.
Various other reviewers say reading this book made them grateful for things we take for granted, like, say, medical cleanliness, personal hygiene, and, of course, the germ theory of disease.
Here's an interview with the author.
Sabrina Chase wants you to know that her sister has published her first fiction book. She describes Amy's Amazing Adventures (Across Time and Space) by Juliet Chase as "a very silly book for very silly people". As such, it comes with
Pan-dimensional rabbits, Regency heroines, Sheiks of Araby(tm), Navy SEALs, Ultimate Sacrifices, and pastries. Guaranteed 100% non-serious. Descended (illegitimately) from the Ruritania/Graustark-type novels of the early 1900s!
All that for only $2.99.
Another Book of Note
I'm not a fan of Seth MacFarlane's 'The Family Guy', but I think some of you morons are, in which case you might be interested in Seth MacFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West: A Novel. I might be interested, but not for $9.99, I'm not. Also, and this is just a personal peeve, I'm put off by any book that tries to score publicity points by including the author's name as part of the title. Why not just call it 'A Million Ways to Die in the West' by Seth MacFarlane and leave it at that?
And there's supposedly plans to make this into a movie soon.
Some of these graphic novels look interesting enough check out. Haven't read any of them except Maus, which I thought was pretty good (best panel: in the second book, the author is trying to come to grips with his success recounting his father's surviving the Holocaust, so he draws himself in his studio, his work desk perched atop a pile of corpses).
So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.
What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as I keep saying, life is too short to be reading lousy books.
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Final Overnight Thread
OK, what was said before, that was a lie. THIS is the real party. Swearsies.
The theme of this, the true and final Overnight Thread of this evening:
Seriously, I want some yard birds something awful. Maybe next Spring.
Buona Pasqua, darling hearts.
This multiple thread thing came out disorienting and strange, didn't it? Wasn't meant that way. Sorry. Will never do this to you again.
I am curious though as to why everyone must move to the top thread. What does it matter, if the conversation is good where you were?
Close it up
Overnight Thread: The Real One
Sorry for the decoy post, but *this* thread is for the cool people and we're trying to keep those other people distracted. Don't tell them we're here.
Here, see. These are some animals that are not like other animals.
The Sea Pig.
Rodent of unusual size.
Close it up
Overnight Thread: Desserts that Look Kinda Sweaty
Announcing The First In A Series Movie thread - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]
I chatted with the boss and we've been given the go-ahead to try something new.
Next week at 8 pm (EST) Saturday, I'll post a movie thread. Ideally, you folks will rent/on-demand/pop in the blu-ray of said movie and we'll all watch it together, commenting as we go. It might be a bit much for an every week kind of post, but we'll see how it goes and, perhaps, make it a once a month/every three weeks kind of thing if folks get on-board with it.
Blogger privilege means that I get to pick the first movie, but after that we'll conduct some sort of poll to determine the next. And, let's keep it light and fruity, with nothing too heavy. I'm thinking along the lines of Animal House, Caddyshack, Battlefield Earth, Pacific Rim, Fast Times at Ridgemont High type of stuff. No Godfather. No Schindler's List. Perhaps an Alien now and then. As one of the commenters said of this concept, it's like MST3K at the HQ.
So, let's kick this thing off.
Next week's selection is likely to come as no surprise to some of you. I choose Battleship, starring Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker, and this remarkable fellow. It is one of those movies that is simply awful but is eminently watchable. It is, quite simply, a fun movie to both love and hate and I'm keeping my fingers crossed here that at least a few of our Navy Morons and 'Ettes will take part because I can only imagine what they'll have to say about it.
If you have HBO, the movie is presently available via On-Demand for free. If not, it is available via On-Demand and Roku for just $2.99.
So, sync your watches and get ready for some fun.
I'll see you back here next Saturday.
The Nightmare Before Easter Open Thread - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]
I remember the first time my daughter saw Santa Clause at the mall. She was none too happy about it. And, when I took her to the circus for the first time, and she saw the clowns, she was similarly having nothing to do with them either. Yet, despite the occasional and jarring contact with the masked or make-up covered characters associated with Christmas or with the three-ring circus, I tried to keep her nightmares to a minimum.
I wish I could say the same of these parents.
Don't believe me?
Check below the fold.
And this isn't even the worst of them.
Parents. Just don't.
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Weekend Travel Thread: Pet Edition [Y-not]
Welcome to your weekend travel thread. By special request of commenter Seamus M., this week's topic is traveling with pets.
How about some music to kick off the thread?
Yeah, I couldn't resist that one.
Traveling with our furry (or scaly or feathery or whathaveyou) friends can be quite the adventure. I've never brought my friends with me on vacation, but many people do. And when they do, it can lead to some difficulties which may have far-reaching consequences. For example, as we learned a couple of years ago, properly transporting your pets is key to your future political aspirations:
The above is NOT Mitt Romney's car, although it was spotted in Utah during my recent trip down to Vegas. Who knew you could fit a horse on the roof of the car?! Impressive!
Having moved quite a lot, Mr Y-not and I have traveled with our pets. Usually, they are long distance trips and so not the most fun. All those videos of doggehs cheerfully hanging their heads out the windows enjoying the sights and smells? Yeah, that's never our pets!
Neither of our dogs is particularly good about car trips. Bailey tends to make a big production about getting into the car -- she insists on being lifted, despite our efforts to assist her by getting a ramp. And Little Debbie always tries to get in the front seat and help drive.
But, by far our worst pet in terms of traveling was our first cat, a seal point Siamese named Sushi. She hated traveling and made sure we -- and everyone ELSE within a twenty mile radius -- knew it.
The first car trip she ever took was when she was about five years old. Up to that point she'd never been in a car. We lived in the city and would walk her (in her carrier) to the vets. But one cold January morning we packed ourselves, our two cats, and our things into a rental car and headed East from Chicago. Final destination: Waltham, Massachusetts (a Boston suburb).
Anticipating (based on prior experiences with Sushi when she'd dealt with strange people or surroundings) that there might be shall we say "issues," we'd gotten some sort of sedative to give Sushi at the start of our journey. (Our other kitty, Jackie, was a mellow tabby -- a real "pussycat," in other words. So we didn't sedate him.) So we head off, each cat in its own carrier and Sushi drugged up. It's a 15 hour trip, so our plan was to stop along the way. As I recall we drove to Erie, Pennsylvania, and began looking for a motel. This was before the age of smart phones (or even cell phones), so we were relying on guidebooks and roadside signs to find one. Eventually we found a motel -- no evidence that they took pets, but it was the type where you could park right in front of your motel room door, so we decided to risk sneaking her in.
After a long day of driving, we were bushed. We let the cats roam the room (after setting up a litter box, of course) and hit the sack.
Three hours later we were awakened by the unearthly sounds of a Siamese cat who, upon coming out of her drug-induced haze and finding herself in strange surroundings, decided to channel her inner cougar. Seriously, the sounds she was making were bizarre AND LOUD. And she would.not.stop. After about half an hour of her yowling and growling and hissing we realized we were going to get kicked out of the motel, so we wrapped her in a towel, shoved her in her carrier, and beat feet. (IIRC we had pre-paid the room so we didn't have to worry about stopping by the desk at 3:30 in the morning.)
It made for quite the story, both for ourselves and -- I imagine -- the poor unfortunate souls who had the adjacent motel room. They must've thought we were conducting some sort of weird Satanic rite or something!
In any event, we never tranquilized Sushi (or any of our pets) ever again. Some people do, of course, and I think you can have some success with tranquilizers. According to this veterinary medicine site, the key is to do some trial dosing with your pet before the trip. If only we had known that 23 years ago!
Apparently, we are not the only folks to travel with a pet cat who turned out to be a wild animal, from this article Tales (and horror stories) from pet-friendly inns some folks travel with actual wild animals:
If you travel with your dog and prefer small inns and B&Bs over chain hotels, it can be frustrating that so few allow pets. If you listen to some innkeepers' stories, though, you may wonder why any of them do.
At Les Artistes Inn in Del Mar, Calif., for example, a pair of Weimaraners crashed through a window when they saw another dog walk past. "The owners had said, 'Don't worry, they'll be fine,'" said owner John Halper. "The 'fine' part was incorrect."
Halper only allows pets in some rooms, but one couple checked into his best no-pets, ocean-view room with a crate "carrying this cat that has a head bigger than my own," he said. They told him it was "a real live hybrid bobcat."
Make sure to read that article for some helpful tips on how best to travel with your pets.
Years ago when I was traveling with Sushi, it was very difficult to find pet-friendly hotels, but today's travelers have it much easier. The following are some resources for pet owners who want to take their furry friends along with them. Disclaimer: Linking to these sites is for informational purposes only and not an endorsement either by myself or the Management. I have not personally used any of these resources.
Trips With Pets is a web resource that helps you find pet-friendly hotels along the route you're traveling. It does not seem to exist in phone app form, but another resource called BringFido is available on iTunes. Here's a Yahoo Finance article about BringFido for more information.
Courtesy of Appcrawlr, here's a list of what they consider to be the best apps for finding pet-friendly hotels.
So, what tips or tales do you have from your travels with pets?
Some of you may have read on the earlier threads that my cat, Boris, passed away this weekend. (It's kind of funny timing that it happened on the weekend that I'd already started a pet-related travel thread.) We rescued Boris from the streets of Houston some fifteen years ago, so I know he had a good life with us, much better than he would have had on his own. But it still saddens me that I delayed one day longer than I should have to take him to the vet (to be put to sleep) so that he wound up dying on his own, with just our other cat for company. I wish I had been there to make sure he didn't suffer.
Boris was a good boy. He started out somewhat skittish (his nickname was "The Flea" because he'd tend to hide if company came) and for quite a few years was our third cat. After the other two died, we got him a little "sister" (Moxie) and it seemed as though he really came into his own in those later years. He was not a lap cat, per se, but he would always come when I called and liked to sit on the arm of my chair and keep me company.
Rest in peace, old friend.
To close up, remember this golden oldie?
Close it up
The Shot Heard Round the World: April 19, 1775 [Y-not]
Today is also the anniversary of a transformative event in our history, the Battle of Lexington. From the Wall Street Journal:
April 19, 1775, was a quiet day in America's Thirteen Colonies—except for a deadly encounter in Lexington, Mass., between about 80 militiamen and 700 British regulars. Neither side had been expecting a fight, and no one knows who really fired the first shot. But accident or no, it set off one of the greatest social and political experiments in history.
The Battle of Lexington was also the inspiration behind one of America's best-known poems, the "Concord Hymn" by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Even those unfamiliar with the poem will recognize the line: "Here once the embattled farmers stood/ And fired the shot heard round the world."
And here's a link to Emerson's famous poem.
How many of you were required to memorize it in school? I don't think I was. Our American history classes focussed on slavery and the Civil War more than on the Revolutionary War. (Pretty sure Mr Moxie's school (in New England) emphasized the latter more than the former.)
Open thread to discuss politics and such.
If Ben K. And CAC Had A Baby, It Would Look A Lot Like This Video
We all know Ben has an unhealthy obsession with Russian dash-cam videos and CAC loves him some space stuff.
Well, here's a Russian dash-cam video of a meteor exploding.
Now try and get the image of Ben and CAC having a baby out of your mind. I bet you can't.
Saturday Car Thread 04/19/14 - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse & Countrysquire]
In a rush today but didn't want to leave you hanging.
Here's a few photos for you to discuss. Some of you have seen them, others have not.
I spotted this in a Hardees parking lot:
This is for sale just down the street from me. Check out those wheels!
Here's another view of that one.
I was behind this on the interstate for several miles. Wanna know how I know he was hauling taller than 13' 6"?
He tapped the brakes before every single overpass and every single sign.
Then there's this '57 Thunderbird which pulled in $60k at a recent Barrett-Jackson auction.
And here's one of the ugliest cars I've seen in some time:
Here's a pretty little gal for the Morons:
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Saturday Gardening Thread: Easter Weekend Edition [Y-not and WeirdDave]
This week's Easter Weekend Edition of the Gardening Thread brought to you by The Legend of the Dogwood:
At the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood had reached the size of the mighty oak tree. So strong and firm was the wood that it was chosen as the timber for Jesus’ cross.
To be used for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the dogwood. While nailed upon it, Jesus sensed this, and in his compassion said. “Because of your pity for my suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used for a cross. Henceforth, it shall be slender, bent, and twisted, and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross–two long and two short petals.
“In the center of the outer edge of each petal will be the print of nails. In the center of the flower, stained with blood, will be a crown of thorns so that all who see it will remember.”
Take it away, WeirdDave!
WeirdDave's "Hot Mess:"
There's a similarly themed open thread below for OT talk and politics. Trust me on this one, you'd be better off down there.
Man, what a mess. It all started when they announced a sale on cyanide at Penny's (nod to Colin Mochrie). I was talking to myself about this week's thread. “Self, “ said I, “what should I write about this week?” “I know”, I replied, “How about a garden sing-a-long? Rewrite popular songs to a garden theme. Our name is Weirddave after all, there's precedent”. Hmmm. OK, Billy Joel:
Pussy willow, daffodil, artichoke, chlorophyl
Common yarrow, foxtail fern, red tomato plant
Red leaf lettuce, green bean vine, kohlrabi, grapes for wine
Bachelor's button, Billy buttons, sure is going slow
Shovel dirt, white corn, wheel barrow Sunday morn
Carrots, hard work is nigh, shit hon, the grass is rye
Hot shower, now clean, more to plant? What do you mean?
Move the dirt, hoe the row, too much work, enough!
Trying to plant a garden,
but the nights are too cold
and my seeds are too old
Trying to plant a garden,
but the plants will flop
and the work don't stop
Rusty shovel, onion set, rain now so it's all wet
Broccoli, on my knees, corn a mile high
Mango, apple tree, watermelon, berry
Radish is too small, please God tell me why
Cabbage, pumpkin, time to pull the weeds again
Pachysandra, pink mink, paper reed, mulch stinks
Eggplant, raspberry, cauliflower, choke cherry
Artichoke, spade broke, another rabbit trap
Trying to plant a garden,
but the nights are too cold
and my seeds are too old
Trying to plant a garden,
but the plants will flop
and the work don't stop
Shit, that's awful, plus I'm going crazy trying to think in 3 and 4 syllable plant names. Maybe a different song. A Springsteen tribute to cross-pollination? (Oh, oh, oh, who's my sire?). Drek. What could I do with the Dead Kennedys ode to Jerry Brown? (Grow a green bean. Up a trellis. Up a trellis,
grow a green bean). * Shudder * Not that. The Chairman of the Board? (When I was 17, I ate a very good pear..). Obviously, this idea is going nowhere.
OK, I'll do what all the great writers throughout history have done when they lock up. Shakespeare, Dickens, Hemingway...all of them at one time or another got writers block, and all of them did the same thing-turned to Google. Playing with the theme, I Googled “Garden songs”, and I got an immediate hit. It's this song, by someone named Dave Mallett:
Well, wasn't that just a lot worse than my attempted at parody? 90 seconds in I had to slit my wrists, which isn't helping because now my keyboards is wet and slippery. More results, more results...There's a Chinese restaurant in Georgia named Song's Garden....Here's somebody's list of 10 songs with garden in their title (Self, in a Dr. McCoy voice “Don't just sit there, throw it in! We need content, man, content!”)
"Ten "Garden" Songs Everyone Can Dig” (link: http://voices.yahoo.com/ten-garden-songs-everyone-dig-10841103.html)
Hey, look! 100 year old garden songs! http://www.parlorsongs.com/issues/2006- 5/thismonth/feature.php
E-bay claims to have great deals on “garden songs”. I'm not clicking. Everything else is about that awful folk song up above. I give up.
There you have it folks, one white hot stinking mess of a garden thread, song edition, a cautionary tale about what can happen when you try to write to a theme and just don't have it going on that day. OTOH, I think the open political thread below came off quite well. Maybe I should just blog open threads.
And now from your co-hostess, Y-not:
In honor of the Easter weekend, I thought it would be nice to share a little bit about traditional Easter plants. We're all familiar with the beautiful flowers at this time of year, especially the Easter lily, but did you know that two woody plants are also associated with this holiday?
The first, as mentioned at the top of this post, is the dogwood tree. It's one of my favorite flowering trees. The area of Maryland where I grew up had many wild flowering dogwoods, most of the white, horizontal growth variety. By "horizontal growth I mean like this:
I think they are such beautiful trees, not just for their flowers, but for their interesting twisted branches.
Although there don't seem to be a lot of dogwoods in my current state of Utah, certainly not growing wild as they did in Maryland, we do have red twig dogwoods. They make a spectacular display by the sides of our rivers and streams. Do any of you have one? I was thinking of planting a couple in a problem spot of our yard that tends to be soggy owing to run off from the neighbor's irrigation system that is up slope from our yard.
In any event, if you like dogwoods as much as I do, you might want to check out some of these dogwood festivals:
Although the Atlanta Dogwood Festival was last weekend, I think it's worth a mention because it looks like it's a B.F.D. Also, presumably dogwoods are still blooming in the Atlanta area this weekend if you want to check them out.
Charlottesville, Virginia has a dogwood festival that extends over several weeks, starting in March and extending through April.
Next month, Tennessee's Dogwood Festival in Winchester (May 2-4), will be featuring the Charlie Daniels Band. Their catch-phrase for the festival is the "Devil went down to Dogwood." Cute.
There don't seem to be many dogwood festivals out West, but I did find one in Idaho, the Dogwood Festival of the Lewis-Clark Valley.
"The Pussy Willow is also our Easter symbol. One of the most prominent Easter symbols, because of the fact out of this dry, kind of twig all of a sudden bursts forth this beautiful flower of life, and it is the first bush that blooms," said Father Krysa.
Christians use Palms as a church symbol of greeting Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. But in the Polish tradition, you will also see pussy willow branches on Palm Sunday.
Father Krysa said according to Polish legend, Jesus visited a forest on Palm Sunday, barren by winter conditions, He commanded His angels to gather up pussy willows, with soft, cotton buds, the first blooms of spring.
Pussy willows were another favorite plant from my childhood. My mom always kept one and would usually have a display of the branches in an old antique vase. Sadly, Utah is not in the pussy willow's range, so I don't have one in my yard.
Garden Report from the VAST Quarter Acre Estate at Casa Y-not:
We had HAIL (combined with thunder, lightning, and high winds) at Casa Y-not last weekend. It blew in at 1:30 in the morning, so needless to say I didn't get out there to cover my plants.
Fortunately, it looks like my mystery sprouts survived. The things that I *think* are radishes are chugging along and I'm seeing signs of what I think are beets and red onions peeking up through the soil. Not sure if the spinach or carrots are going to sprout. I'll give them some more time to do their thing, in the meantime, I put in some starter plants yesterday: snap peas, shallots, sweet onions, and strawberries. Those, combined with the herbs and lettuces that survived the winter are starting to make my raised beds look like a garden!
What's happening in your garden?
This week's Blog of the Week is Botanist in the Kitchen. I stumbled upon this last week when a commenter was asking about the (possible) relatedness of magnolias and gardenias. This post shows what's called a phylogenetic tree analysis of "food" plants. It's worth a gander, especially if you want to understand one of the modern ways that evolutionary study is conducted.
If you're interested in learning more, here's a scientific primer on phylogenetic trees from UC Berkeley.
Also from UCB, I thought that this was a useful discussion of the predictive power of phylogenetic analysis:
Phylogenies also allow us to generate expectations about the characteristics of living organisms that we have not yet studied. For example, scientists discovered that the Pacific Yew produces a compound called taxol that is helpful in treating certain kinds of cancer, but it was difficult and expensive to get enough of the compound out of the tree to make its use broadly feasible. However, based on the evolutionary relationships among yew species, biologists expected that close relatives of the Pacific Yew might produce similarly effective compounds.
Happily, they were right! They discovered that the leaves of the European Yew contain a related compound that can also be used to efficiently produce Taxol. Taxol is now widely available for cancer treatment.
BTW, from what I can glean, Gardenias are not particularly highly-related to Magnolias. Gardenia is a Genus in the family Rubiaceae (the Coffee or Madder family). Magnolia is a Genus in the Magnoliaceae family. The other member of that family is Liriodendron (the tulip tree).
Finally, in honor of the Easter holiday, here's W.A. Mozart's Regina Coeli KV 108:
Close it up
Open Thread for Politics 4-19-14 [WeirdDave]
Well, the garden thread was supposed to be a parody sing along themed one, but that went south in a hurry. However, it just so happens I have a song I wrote to the tune of “Bonnie Blue Flag” back when the Tea Party was new, and that one goes great in an OT political thread. Here's the original song if you're not familiar with it, it was almost as popular as “Dixie” in the CSA. From the movie Gods and Generals:
"We are a band of brothers
And native to the soil,
Fighting for the property
We gained by honest toil;
And when our rights were threatened,
The cry rose near and far--
"Hurrah for the Gadsden Flag
Fly proudly from our spar!"
CHORUS: Hurrah! Hurrah!
Individual rights hurrah!
Hurrah for the Gadsden Flag
Fly proudly from our spar.
While the D.C elite,
Were faithful to their trust,
Like friends and like brothers
Both kind were we and just;
But now, when Federal treachery
Attempts our rights to mar,
We hoist on high the Gadsden Flag
Fly proudly from our spar.--CHORUS
First gallant Rick Santelli
cried out from the exchange,
The people followed quickly,
rejecting this new "change".
Alaska's native daughter,
inspired many more
All raised on high the Gadsden Flag
Fly proudly from our spar.--CHORUS
Ye men of valor, gather round
The banner of our fight;
From home to halls of Congress
The statist foe we smite.
We shall oppose the president,
his cronies and his tzars;
Now rally round the Gadsden Flag
Fly proudly from our spar.--CHORUS
And then in old Virginia--
progressives met their fate--
Along with blue New Jersey
showed reforms can not wait;
Impelled by their example,
Now other states prepare
To hoist on high the Gadsden Flag
Fly proudly from our spar.--CHORUS
Then cheer, boys, cheer;
Raise the joyous shout,
The two-ten midterms proved our case
There is no remaining doubt;
And let another rousing cheer
For freedom's light be given,
"Don't tread on me" from the Gadsden Flag
Flies proudly from our spar.--CHORUS
Then here's to our Republic,
Strong are we and brave;
Like patriots of old we'll fight
Our rule of law to save.
And rather than submit to shame,
To die we would prefer;
So cheer for the Gadsden Flag
Fly proudly from our spar.--CHORUS
Close it up
—Dave In Texas
April 19 1995. Oklahoma City. A vehicle bomb containing barrels of ammonium nitrate, liquid nitromethane, diesel fuel, and about a million pounds of pure goddamned evil was detonated in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building.
He killed 168 people including 19 children, 15 of which were inside the America's Kids Day Care Center. There were almost 700 other casualties.
I remember thinking as all the facts came to light this was the most evil, cruel, hateful, insane act of murder that ever happened in my country in my lifetime. At the time it was true. It isn't true now.
All this happened a few minutes ago on a beautiful spring morning in 1995.
God bless the men and women who struggled to save lives that day, to those who cared for the wounded, and the families and loved ones of those whose lives were torn apart that terrible day.
Gabe normally posts on the events of this awful day, he was unavailable this morning and asked if someone else could do it.
I have a friend who lost her parents that day. They had "disappeared", her sister in Oklahoma City said "I haven't heard from mom and dad and don't know where they are". Her sister went to their mom and dad's home and found some Social Security forms and paperwork on the kitchen table. It was weeks before their bodies were identified but the sisters pretty much knew a few days after the bombing that their parents had gone to the Murrah building that morning.
Close it up
Overnight Open Thread
Thanks to Niedermeyer's Dead Horse and the cobs for helping me put this together.
Do you think your kids would appreciate having their Easter baskets stuffed with healthier items? Well sure they would!!! What kid wouldn't love to find an Easter basket stuffed with plastic eggs, inside of which are dried fruits??!!
But the best suggestions have to be: Tea, and Stationery.
Yes, stationery. Because children love quality writing paper.
You know, if you give your kid tea and stationery for Easter, you're kind of giving them permission to kill you in your sleep.
Might as well go whole hog and give your kid a Pet Fart (TM) as a gift.
And while you're breaking your children's hearts with gag gifts for Easter, you might keep in mind that some people treat even rats better than that:
For anyone feeling a bit sad, here's a picture from a woman who makes Teddy Bears for her pet rat! pic.twitter.com/4KtU3esTnq— Animal Planet (@MeetAnimals) March 17, 2014
A type of insect has been discovered in which the female has the penis -- well, the "intromittent organ," the thing that gets stuck into the other organ.
It's not really a penis, of course. It's just something she sticks inside of the male to painfully leech the sperm out of him.
A study of four species of the Neotrogla genus showed that the penis-like structure of the female, called a gynosome, is inserted into males and used to receive capsules of nutrient and sperm.
Once within a male, part of the gynosome inflates and projects spines which anchor the two insects together.
The scientists found it impossible to pull coupling males and females apart without causing injury.
The insect has been named "Paul Begala," from the Latin for "fivehead twatmuffin."
To save money, and to like be "green" or whatever, the Netherlands is attempting an experiment on a length of road whereby they take down all the streetlights and provide illumination instead only via glow-in-the-dark paint used for the road lines.
Here's a mock-up (I think) of what that might look like:
You might not think the basic design of the axe could be improved upon after... what, gotta be like 40,000 years of constant human use, right? But these Finns say they've done just that.
The traditional axe is simply a heavy wedge that is swung at the wood. If it has enough momentum, it penetrates into the wood, spreads it and thus splits the wood.
In designing the traditional axe the challenge is to find the optimal wedge shape which both penetrates into the wood and splits it. Too shallow an angle and the axe will not split the wood and too wide and the axe will not penetrate.
In practice, everybody who has tried splitting wood with a traditional axe knows that it takes a lot of power to penetrate and split the wood. Consequently, women and children may have serious trouble operating the traditional axe.
When using a traditional axe the work is quite slow. It happens quite often that the axe penetrates into the wood but does not have enough energy to split it. The reason is that there is an enormous amount of friction when the wedge penetrates the wood and tries to split it and this friction consumes the axe’s energy. As a result, you have a log that has the axe stuck firmly inside it. Removing it can be quite challenging at times.
So basically the axe is designed to be used by a powerful man using brute force, and only a small amount of mechanical advantage, to split wood.
The "Leveraxe" is built oddly-- the center of momentum isn't in the middle of the blade, but off to the side. So when it strikes wood, it turns, and in turning, it uses some of the momentum you've given it to split the wood apart.
This video shows what I'm talking about:
So, they built the axe "wrong," making it wiggly and wobbly in the hand instead of straight and solid, deliberately engineering a lot of girlish flopping around into it, to allow a weaker, more feminine sort of man to achieve good results with it.
Gee, I wonder where they got that idea from.
They're showing off new composite photographs from the Hubble space telescope.
Below, a movie of a zoom in from the night sky to a cluster called CLASS B1608+656. I'm not sure if they're implying this is real or really real -- that is, is this actually just a video of the zoom in, or is there CGI animation inserted to make the movement smooth?
I don't know. Cool, though.
Close it up
Friday Night Open Thread
Worst ever avalanche on Mount Everest kills 12 guides, with four people still unaccounted for.
Why so many guides and few climbers? Well... because Sherpas are really the climbers, and every season, they prepare the climb with predeployed supplies and equipment (and checking ropes and such) for the "climbing season."
With peak season just days away [I see what you did there -- ace], Sherpas and guides are busy preparing for the trek up the highest peak in the world.
"The Sherpa guides were carrying up equipment and other necessities for climbers when the disaster happened," a spokesman for Nepal's Tourism Ministry, Mohan Krishna Sapkota, told the AFP news agency.
Before a climber begins the assent, hired Sherpas set up camps at higher altitudes and fix routes and ropes on the slopes above.
Of course climbing Mount Everest is a serious achievement for anyone.
Still, you know. It's always strange to celebrate a climber when Sherpas are going up the mountain all the time. As their day job. Let's face it, they're the climbers. The "climbers" are really the luggage.
Don't ever call them socialist, but it just so happens that David Axelrod has been hired by a socialist candidate for UK prime minister.
The British Labour Party has appointed David Axelrod as a strategic adviser to Ed Miliband's 2015 campaign. Axelrod, who went on to serve as a senior adviser to President Obama after acting as an adviser on the president's 2008 campaign, will reportedly be paid a six-figure sum for his work.
These government-connected socialists do live well, don't they?
You probably won't believe this, but Politico seems to have a crush on Hillary Clinton.
Incidentally, while the left celebrates Hillary's soon-to-be electorally-useful Grandmother Status, they also attack Drudge for the "ageist" attack of calling her a grandma.
Which is what they're doing. Oh but right, they're talking up how that will make her the Best President Ever so it's different.
Oh, and just two weeks after NBC warned the country about the dangers of billionaires spending wads of money to influence elections, Mike Bloomberg appeared on NBC to publicize his donation of $50 million to, get this, "grassroots organizations," the media calls them, to fight gun rights.
NBC forgot to ask Michael Bloomberg about the perils of billionaires buying elections.
Ah well, I'm sure it just slipped their minds.
Breaking: Obama's a nasty little prick.
@RDBrewer4 sent me this audio of Quentin Tarantino's commentary for True Romance, specifically the "Sicilian speech" scene. (Oh, yeah, he didn't direct it, but he provides commentary as the writer.) Here's the part about the Sicilian speech, but I've listened to most of the whole thing, and I think it's a very good commentary.
Tarantino is not as annoying as he usually is, and he basically uses the commentary to tell the early story of his career (he wrote, in order, True Romance, Reservoir Dogs, and Pulp Fiction within a few years). It's pretty interesting, so long as you like any of those movies.
He also makes a few interesting observations, like his idea that a movie should be so autobiographically revealing about yourself that if you watch it a few years later, you should be embarrassed at how much of yourself you've exposed. He says he did this with his fantasy/juvenile portrayal of what an awesome girlfriend would be like with the Alabama character (he had never had a girlfriend at that point, and he was 25, so his idea of a girlfriend was entirely speculative and hypothetical) and I guess the Clarence character, who is a Tarantino Mary Sue.
So, if you thought, "Gee this Alabama character sure seems like an idealized wish-fulfillment creation of a romantically-frustrated arrested-development 25-year-old juvenile who knows almost nothing about actual women," Yup. You nailed it.
Worth a listen.
By the way, speaking of Bunnies, did you know people actually put rabbits through show competitions, including agility courses?
They do. There are a lot of videos like this on YouTube.
Krauthammer: I No Longer Support Disclosure in Campaign Donations, Because Zealots Will Destroy Free Speech Rights By Ruining Lives and Wrecking Careers
And there's really no way around that, is there?
Best we can do is mitigate the harm by making government smaller, thus limiting the harm that people can inflict when they gather into Battleclans for Tribal Warfare.
And of course that's not happening any time soon.
[Full disclosure and complete transparency] used to be my position. No longer. I had not foreseen how donor lists would be used not to ferret out corruption but to pursue and persecute citizens with contrary views. Which corrupts the very idea of full disclosure.
It is now an invitation to the creation of enemies lists....
Sometimes the state itself does the harassing. The IRS scandal left many members of political groups exposed to abuse, such as the unlawful release of confidential data....
The ultimate victim here is full disclosure itself. If revealing your views opens you to the politics of personal destruction, then transparency, however valuable, must give way to the ultimate core political good, free expression.
Our collective loss. Coupling unlimited donations and full disclosure was a reasonable way to reconcile the irreconcilables of campaign finance. Like so much else in our politics, however, it has been ruined by zealots. What a pity.
The whole column is worth reading, but I can't quote it all, of course.
Kevin D. Williamson has more thoughts on the related issue of the militarization of the speech police.
Down in Travis County, Texas, where the stink of cronyism has Republicans in the legislature and Democrats in the bureaucracies sniffing each others’ tails like opportunistic stray dogs, University of Texas regent Wallace Hall is facing the possibility of criminal prosecution for helping to expose the bipartisan scandal of Texas politicians’ seeking preferential treatment for friends and family in university admissions....
In a sane world, Wallace Hall would get a medal for bringing attention to wrongdoing by elected officials, but the university establishment and the political establishment relish their comfortable symbiosis.
Others dream of prosecution, too. The political class is infatuated with speech regulations (which we are expected to call “campaign-finance laws”) because its members harbor a self-interested desire to set the terms under which political contests are fought. That is corruption, and a particularly nasty sort of corruption at that: corruption dressed up as a reform crusade....
The irony here is that it is the ones doing the prosecuting are the ones who should be prosecuted. It is against the law to use IRS resources for political vendettas and to maliciously prosecute citizens to further partisan political interests. Those are serious crimes — serious because they pervert the fundamental relationship between citizen and state. But we are enduring what Sam Francis called “anarcho-tyranny,” a situation in which the government either refuses to or is unable to enforce its most fundamental laws — e.g. controlling the borders, ensuring that its revenue agents are not engaged in an unhinged political jihad with an eye toward stacking elections, etc. — while at the same time it seeks to regulate the minutiae of citizens’ lives with all the terrible moral ferocity of David Frum on a Tuesday afternoon espresso bender.
Meanwhile, Harry Reid -- who is more and more simply a monster -- continues making it clear that the Party of Government has personal interests, and it will stop at very little in vindicating those personal interests:
I note again that it is a scary thing when high-ranking officials of the Party of Government take challenges to their authority so personally.
You don't want a cop taking a small amount of attitude personally, and you sure as hell don't want the Majority Leader of the Senate doing so.
Or Sheldon Whitehorse of Rhode Island, who apparently took it quite personally indeed that Tea Party groups were seeking the same sort of tax status as myriad progressive groups.
Close it up
AoSHQ Podcast: Guest, Jonah Goldberg
The yoga is hot, things are in hands, and no animals were harmed in the making of this podcast.
Intro/Outro: Van Halen-Panama / 38 Special-Teacher Teacher
Questions & comments here: Ask the Blog
Browse (and even search!) the archives
Open thread in the comments.
Profanity Note (Ace): After weeks of very little cursing, we curse a lot in this one.
I mean, I curse a lot. It wasn't planned or anything.
Preppin' on Mars: The Martian by Andy Weir
Brief book review. I read this a while ago. It's pretty good.
The premise -- which is a bit dodgy, but I'll grant the writer some latitude in establishing his premise -- is that a single member of a Mars exploration crew is left behind, presumed dead, when the entire team evacuates during a high-powered windstorm that threatens to destroy their camp.
The lone survivor -- the "Martian" of the title -- regains consciousness and takes stock of his situation. There is no possible hope of rescue for four years. He has enough food for something like 300 days (50 days of food for each of the six planned crewmen). So he has to extend his 300 days of food into something like 1450 days.
I mean 1450 "sols." You can't say "day" because a day is an actual measure of time corresponding to 24 hours. A Martian "day" is not the same length of an earth day (though it's pretty damn close), so instead it's called a "sol," which I guess is short for solar cycle.
The "Martian" basically becomes a Prepper. He uses almost all of the floorspace of his habitation unit -- and almost all of his excrement -- as a makeshift farm for growing the highest-energy-density food possible, potatoes. He realizes he also won't have enough water to grow his potatoes, so he's forced to engage in some dangerous chemistry to synthesize hundreds of liters of water out of oxygen and... rocket fuel. And he has to do perform various cannibalizations and modifications to his Mars Rover Vehicles, because his only hope of escape -- 1450 sols down the road -- is making a dangerous and lengthy overland journey over the perilously high/abyssally low Martian terrain to the site of the anticipated landing zone for the next Mars mission.
It's a pretty fun adventure/survival/settler book. (The book does not mention it at all, but it does suggest to a reader (or at least this reader) the travails faced by the early American colonists, or the Antarctic explorers. It's just kind of implicit in this sort of story, without having to be mentioned.)
It's mostly a collection of his diary entries while on Mars. I always feel this is a cheat, because it permits a writer to resort to a very bloggy, casual style of writing in which very little work is exerted. But it mostly works, and I guess is justifiable. This sort of epistolatory novel has a long tradition, after all. Robinson Crusoe was also journal entries, if I remember from the last time I read it. (When I say "I read it" I mean I briefly skimmed the Wikipedia entry.)
But the writer finds this format -- an epistolatory novel consisting of nothing but "found documents" like journal entries or government memoranda -- constraining at times, and then breaks into a conventional third-person omniscient narrative, which is jarring for a couple of reasons. First, just because it's breaking the journal format established earlier, and second, because Weir is, well, his Third Person Narrator style of writing is just as slapdash as his First Person Blog Account style.
It's actually a lot worse, because at least the First Person Blog Account permits a lot of humor (his "Martian" is very jokey) and we don't expect a high degree of literary craft in a journal entry.
But when you switch over to Third Person Narrator, well now that's the actual author of the book writing it, and you don't cut him slack for not being much of a stylist.
In addition, these Third Person Narrator accounts are mostly set on earth, concerning earth officials' efforts to get the stranded "Martian" back to earth, and the read, unfortunately, like those old sci-fi magazine stories in which characters pretty much just speak to each other about Plot Conceits with some occasional Science and Engineering Fan Service thrown in.
And then, when you begin to wish for some actual characterization in these parts, he offers the bare minimum of check-that-box characterization, and you wish he hadn't even bothered.
In fact, I kept thinking as I read these parts: they're so badly written, without any real effort to make these characters seem alive and real, that he really should have stuck to the Full Epistolatory Format and just made these memoranda or minutes from meetings. If he'd done that, the lack of characterization or versimilitude wouldn't be a problem; it would be a virtue. Meetings of NASA meetings aren't supposed to contain a lot of extraneous character information, after all.
There are also a few patches of Very Convenient Plotting Syndrome. These were especially grating because, mostly, they didn't seem necessary-- they have to do with narrative convenience (and, at times, narrative laziness). They don't really affect the main plot that much, which makes the appearance of bits of This Is What Happens Because I Said So more unfortunate.
That said, the book is just fun. Sure, the first person journal account is not the best way to describe the long ride in the MRV near the climax. I would have preferred a Third Person account there, to better convey the wonder of driving through Mars' red dust, down its mile-deep ravines.
And sure, here and there it's written so craftlessly it gets distracting.
But the story is just undeniable fun. The situation is inherently interesting.
And the main character is admirable: There's just no quit in him, and he never gets down. I would have liked him to be more depressed at the beginning, so that his resolution to Just Survive would be more dramatic, but the character winds up being that type who wouldn't get that depressed.
Surviving on Mars for four years, despite only having provisions for 100 sols, is just a problem that needs to be worked through. There's no point crying about it, there's no point blaming the crew that left him behind, and there's no point cursing NASA and God. Just Get On With It. Just do what you need to do, get through the next 30 days so you can then plot how to get through the next thirty. Just keep calm and carry on.
And if you blow up your habitation unit while playing around with your rocket fuel chemistry experiment, you don't cry about it like a baby. When you regain consciousness, you just get out the Duck Tape and start fixin' the thing.
So while at first I wanted more of a depression to seize him, as I read the book I liked the way the character was actually written better. He's an astronaut, after all, and he's not an Everyman. He's the sort of guy who signed up for this years-long, high-chance-of-death mission in the first place.
He's not going to be like I would be in this situation -- fortunately for him, because I just would have eaten the 100 sols of food in 50 days and then hung myself from the radio mast.
Which would have been stupid, because the gravity wouldn't have been enough to do a proper job of strangling me. So I would have f***ed that up too. (By the way, the author uses the f word a lot.)
Overall, it's about Mars, it's about survival, it's about preppin', it's about just shutting up with the complaints and working on the problem at hand.
It's pretty good. There are worst ways to spend a coupla-three nights, and most of those involve the televison.
DIY: Commenters have made me aware of something I didn't previously know -- the book was self-published on Amazon for 99 cents before being bought up by a real publisher (and now sells for $9.99).
It's also been optioned for a movie.
Kind of cool.
I now sort of understand why at times this reads like a book written by an amateur that wasn't professionally edited -- because that's what it is.
Still, flaws and all, it stands on its strengths.
Close it up
College Professor Suspended and Investigated After Being Reported For Using His Daughter to Make Real and Credible Threats to Kill People
Oh, here was the real and credible threat he posted on Google+:
Intellectual Winter is Coming
Scary, huh? Yeah, that T-shirt is a quote from Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones.
It's a nerd culture t-shirt, in other words. The "fire" she's threatening people with? Yeah, comes from fire-breathing dragons.
But the professor has literally been suspended and is being investigated for this scary death threat.
But one contact — a dean — who was notified automatically via Google that the picture had been posted apparently took it as a threat. In an e-mail, Jim Miller, the college’s executive director for human resources, told Schmidt to meet with him and two other administrators immediately in light of the “threatening e-mail.” …
Schmidt said he met with the administrators, including a security official, in one of their offices and was questioned repeatedly about the picture’s meaning and the popularity of “Game of Thrones.”
Schmidt said Miller asked him to use Google to verify the phrase, which he did, showing approximately 4 million hits. The professor said he asked why the photo had set off such a reaction, and that the security official said that “fire” could be a kind of proxy for “AK-47s.”
Well, in fairness, the type of dragon alluded to is an "Assault Dragon," with extended stomach-magazines for additional literal fire-power.
Plus, "that part that goes down" (i.e., a tail).
It gets worse:
Schmidt believes the school is acting not to protect students from potential threats, but to retaliate against him. A week before being placed on leave, Schmidt filed a grievance against the school because he was passed up for a sabbatical.
Here's how Bergen Community College covers itself in further glory: by doubling down.
[Bergen Community College President Kay] Walter said she did not believe that the college had acted unfairly, especially considering that there were three school shootings nationwide in January, prior to Schmidt’s post.
Well that's not the sort of sub-moronic utterance I associate with community colleges at all.
The professor is suspended, without pay, until he can pass a psych exam showing he is not a threat to the school.
So that's it, then: It's Idiocracy. We are a stupid, stupid people, and like most deeply stupid people, we are increasingly proud of our stupidity.
The greatest offense you can inflict on a stupid, ignorant person is to tell him something he doesn't know, and there's no possible way to avoid this offense, because the list of things he does not know is vast.
And he'll hate you for telling him something he didn't know. And he will mock you for having known this thing, and, if he can get away with it, he will inflict punishment on you. Corporeal punishment, if he's bigger than you, and if he's not bigger than you, which will usually be the case, he will resort to the more cowardly method of punishment favored by the weakling, to wit, social/political/bureaucratic punishment.
All for having made a f***ing moron felt briefly ashamed about not knowing something.
In no case will the proudly ignorant ever just laugh off their moment of revealed ignorance and apologize for the misunderstanding, because the thick-headed do not know the things it's okay not to know. That is, it's okay to not know character quotes from Game of Thrones; it's just a nerd-cult tv show and book series. Who cares if you don't know the quote, or never heard of Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons?
But the stupid know so little they cannot differentiate between those things they should be ashamed of being ignorant of and those that they shouldn't, so, always fighting from the position of a defensive flinch, they feel ashamed about being ignorant of everything, which would be fine, but being stupid, and therefore, in the center of themselves, aggressive and hostile, they lash out at their phantasmal "oppressors" by any means they can.
In related news, civilization itself was a major misstep and that error probably should be corrected as soon as possible.
LA Sheriffs Kept Big-Brother-Like Eye in the Sky Technology Secret, for Fears That the Public Wouldn't Approve
There is an argument against the technology itself. I'm not going to make that argument, because there's a much more obvious argument to be had here:
What on earth is the government of an alleged democratic republic doing hiding its actions from a supposedly free citizenry for fear that the citizens may object?
“The system was kind of kept confidential from everybody in the public,” (LASD Sgt.) Iketani said. “A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother, so in order to mitigate any of those kinds of complaints, we basically kept it pretty hush-hush.”
"In order to mitigate any of those kind of complaints."
The logic here is incredible, and yet, at the same time, perhaps inevitable.
We're going to be doing one thing that's creepy and scary -- watching you 24/7 per day -- so the thing we'll do to "mitigate those kinds of complaints" is also subvert democracy by keeping it secret from the public.
Like I say, perhaps this is inevitable -- if you're doing one scary thing, then logic dictates you "mitigate" it by doing an even scarier thing.
What the hell is going on in this country?
Cool Beans: Earth-Sized Planet in the Habitable Zone Discovered Very Near our Own Solar System
At just a mere 500 light years away, why, it's almost walking distance.
It's in the outer limits of the habitable zone, though. The cold part of the zone, like Mars. But it's more massive than Mars (more massive than Earth, in fact) so it could hold more of an atmosphere and thus be warmer.
Water could exist in liquid form, if it exists there at all.
Kepler-186f actually lies at the edge of the Kepler-186 star's habitable zone, meaning that liquid water on the planet's surface could freeze, according to study co-author Stephen Kane of San Francisco State University.
Because of its position in the outer part of the habitable zone, the planet's larger size could actually help keep its water liquid, Kane said in a statement. Since it is slightly bigger than Earth, Kepler-186f could have a thicker atmosphere, which would insulate the planet and potentially keep its water in liquid form, Kane added.
The planet orbits a red dwarf, much colder than our own sun, but the planet is much closer to it (and so is within the smaller star's smaller habitable zone).
This is kind of interesting. I know, vaguely, that a planet's atmospheric make-up depends on its mass. Mass determines not just how much gas a planet will hold in its atmosphere, but which gases, specifically. I believe it's easier to hold heavier gases, and harder to hold lighter ones (like hydrogen and helium).
Mars, being quite a bit less massive than earth, can't hold oxygen or nitrogen.
This planet, being just about earth's mass (1.1 earth-masses) could. But anyway, here's the interesting part: You can't go much more over earth's actual mass before a planet will begin trapping hydrogen and helium (rather than losing grip on these light atoms and letting them slip into space), and thus become not very earth-like at at all.
"What we've learned, just over the past few years, is that there is a definite transition which occurs around about 1.5 Earth radii," Quintana said in a statement. "What happens there is that for radii between 1.5 and 2 Earth radii, the planet becomes massive enough that it starts to accumulate a very thick hydrogen and helium atmosphere, so it starts to resemble the gas giants of our solar system rather than anything else that we see as terrestrial."
So "earth-like" is a very, very narrow range as far as mass -- say, I don't know, 0.8 earth masses to 1.5 earth masses -- and as far as distance from star.
Not a lot of wiggle room here.
thanks to @rdbrewer4.
Elizabeth Warren Angry That People Challenged Her Claims of Being a Cherokee
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren recounts in her new autobiography that she was “hurt” and “angry” by news reports that there was no documentation to support her claims of her family’s Cherokee heritage in the 2012 Senate race, according to a published report.
“What really threw me, though, were the constant attacks from the other side,” Warren wrote, according to Politico.com...
Efforts to reach a Warren spokeswoman yesterday were unsuccessful.
She once again makes the maudlin, manipulative claim that by challenging her use of her "minority" status for professional advancement, people were attacking her dead parents, who, she alleges, told her this silly story.
Of course, they never told her "And be sure to check off the 'minority' box in each and every job you apply for or land."
Incidentally, Warren also took credit (such as it might be) for the Occupy movement.
The article also states Warren was “confused” when the media jumped on her claim of inspiring the Occupy movement.
“There must have been a mistake — right?” Warren said she thought, before learning from an aide she had been correctly quoted as saying: “I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do.”
Warren acknowledged, “My words sounded so puffy and self-important, and they made it seem as if I were trying to take credit for a protest I wasn’t even part of.”
Howie Carr has a simple suggestion as to how to resolve this controversy: if Elizabeth Warren will just be so kind as to swab the inside of her (high) cheeks with a DNA sample swab, he'll pay for a DNA test out of his own pocket to determine if she's a Cherokee.
It’s easy. Just swab the inside of your mouth. Check my photo on the left, I’ll show you how to do it.
No more of this fact-free nonsense about your “high cheekbones,” or these ridiculous fables about your parents “eloping” to escape the racism of the Indian Territory when they actually returned to their hick hometown that same evening for a traditional wedding party.
The only explanation you haven’t trotted out yet is that you instantly knew you were an Indian when you first heard Cher on the AM radio belting out “Half Breed.”
It would be great publicity for your new 2016 presidential campaign book if you finally come clean. Plus, what’s the downside, if you’re so positive that you really are an Indian princess?
Funny, but such a test would probably help her. It's quite possible she has 1/64th (or was it 1/128th?) Cherokee blood. It's even possible her parents told her stories of her distant, attenuated Cherokee ancestor. I'm told such legends are commonplace in Oklahoma.
But to claim to be a minority for professional advancement based upon such a tiny amount of minority status?
There's no simple DNA test for shamelessness and cynical careerism.
I don't think this is a gratuitous issue -- while I don't think Elizabeth Warren would challenge Queen (or is it Grand-Queen now?) Hillary, she does seem to be positioning herself for a possible bid if Hillary doesn't run.
Boehner: Amnesty 2014 Or Bust
I'll just leave this here without further comment.
Speaker John Boehner and other senior House Republicans are telling donors and industry groups that they aim to pass immigration legislation this year, despite the reluctance of many Republicans to tackle the divisive issue before the November elections.
Many lawmakers and activists have assumed the issue was off the table in an election year. But Mr. Boehner said at a Las Vegas fundraiser last month he was "hellbent on getting this done this year," according to two people in the room.
Added: Senator who partnered with Democrats to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill that Obama would sign in a heartbeat, fumbles and flips around on amnesty some more.
“I think this administration has probably reached the point of irreconcilable differences with regards to trust, particularly among Republicans,” Rubio explained during a conversation at a Texas Tribune event on Tuesday.
“There is a true distaste--and rightfully so--for comprehensive pieces of legislation,” he said.
Rubio explained that he believed that immigration would always have to be addressed in a sequential process.
“It doesn’t happen all at once, but I think it’s a lot better than continuing to go in circles here, and this all-or-nothing approach that for 14 years has led to nothing.”
So....we're just supposed to forget that less than a year ago he was the GOP poster-boy for what he's now saying is bad policy?
Rubio should stick to giving speeches about how much he loves America. He's very good at that. He's not quite as good at actual politics.
As Churchill once said about returning to the Conservative Party after abandoning it for the Liberal Party, "Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat.". Rubio, who has gone from amnesty opponent to supporter and is now trying to get back to opponent, does not have Churchill's level of ingenuity.
It's Not Over Until The Liberal Republicans Win
I guess Ben has forsaken you so allow me to step in.
1. Liberal Republicans like former W. Bush aid Michael Gerson, just can't stop beating up on Goldwater.
The problem comes in viewing Goldwater as an example rather than as a warning. Conservatives sometimes describe his defeat as a necessary, preliminary step — a clarifying and purifying struggle — in the Reagan revolution. In fact, it was an electoral catastrophe that awarded Lyndon Johnson a powerful legislative majority, increased the liberal ambitions of the Great Society and caused massive distrust of the GOP among poor and ethnic voters. The party has never quite recovered. Ronald Reagan was, in part, elected president by undoing Goldwater’s impression of radicalism. And all of Reagan’s domestic achievements involved cleaning up just a small portion of the excesses that Goldwater’s epic loss enabled.
The Republican Party needs internal debate and populist energy. But it is not helped by nostalgia for a disaster.
It's funny how the liberals in the GOP keep going back to Goldwater. Are there no more modern examples of the GOP picking bad candidates for President that we might learn something from?
I guess we're just to chalk up loses by George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney to...well nothing. Those get airbrushed out of history. No we must forever be vigilant against the repetition of a one time event like Goldwater (who in today's environment of fairly stable red/blue voting patterns would have done as well as McCain or Romney).
Remember that the alternative to Goldwater in 1964 was Nelson Rockefeller who just happened to support much, if not all, of Lyndon Johnson's "great society".
It's almost as if people like Gerson and Jennifer Rubin aren't trying to improve conservatism but push liberalism.
Speaking of which....
[Romney] may not direct a high-powered political-action committee or hold a formal position, but with the two living former Republican presidents — George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush — shying away from campaign politics, Romney, 67, has begun to embrace the role of party elder, believing he can shape the national debate and help guide his fractured party to a governing majority.
Insisting he won’t seek the presidency again, the former GOP nominee has endorsed at least 16 candidates this cycle, many of them establishment favorites who backed his campaigns. One Romney friend said he wants to be the “anti-Jim DeMint,” a reference to the former South Carolina senator and current Heritage Foundation chairman who has been a conservative kingmaker in Republican primaries. Romney’s approach is to reward allies, boost rising stars and avoid conflict.
Let me remind you of a few things:
A-Romney was a terrible candidate
B-You can say, "but he was right about Obama". Yes and so was everyone on this blog. It's not a really impressive thing.
C-The whole idea of, "if the election were held today he'd win" is meaningless. It's not going to be held today for starters and just about any Republican would have as much of a shot in this hypothetical rematch as Romney.
D-He was untrustworthy on almost every issue.
That Romney would be better than Obama is a useless metric. So would just about any jackass off the street. Personally, I'd give the random jackass a better chance of winning simply because I know for a fact what a terrible candidate Romney is.
George W. Bush won two terms as President and he's been as quiet as a church mouse for going on 6 years. Mitt Romney got his ass kicked in one election and he can't keep his shut. Advantage: Bush.
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Happy Friday, all.
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Overnight Open Thread (4-17-2014)– Not Sure Edition
In the film, it is the "Great Garbage Avalanche of 2505" that frees our protagonists from their cryogenic sleep. This prediction that trash will eventually pile up to unmanageable amounts has started to come true in many parts of the world. Particularly, Guatemala is known for their regular landfill landslides, especially during rainy seasons. Sadly, this is the cause of many deaths per year there to those who make their living as trash miners.
This one was a fairly obvious dig on society as it already was when the movie came out, but it's gotten way worse since. You virtually can't go anywhere without being bombarded by advertisements, and it's only going to continue to get worse and more prevalent as technology advances. Think about it, when was the last time you watched a YouTube video, surfed the Internet in general, or even watched television for more than five minutes without some product being pushed in your face? Heck, even phone apps are loaded with them if you aren't specifically paying them not to.
Plus you have the ubiquitous cursing and general talking like a tard.
But the absolute proof that we're now in the late pre-Idiocracy era is the fact that this aired on America's Got Talent:
Short answer: Politics. And opposing DWIs.
Yes. Yes you can via the 11-99 Foundation.
Alex Mayyasi reports that in the parking lots of Silicon Valley's venture capital firms, expensive cars gleam in the California sun and a closer look reveals that the cars share a mysterious detail: they nearly all have a custom license plate frame that reads, 'Member. 11-99 Foundation.' Are the Bay Area's wealthy all part of some sort of illuminati group that identifies each other by license plate instead of secret handshakes? The answer is the state highway patrol - the men and women that most people interact with only when getting ticketed for speeding. A number of the frames read 'CHP 11-99 Foundation,' which is the full name of a charitable organization that supports California Highway Patrol officers and their families in times of crisis. Donors receive one license plate as part of a $2,500 'Classic' level donation, or two as part of a bronze, silver, or gold level donation of $5,000, $10,000, or $25,000. Rumor has it, according to Mayyasi, that the license plate frames come with a lucrative return on investment. As one member of a Mercedes-Benz owners community wrote online back in 2002: 'I have the ultimate speeding ticket solution. I paid $1800 for a lifetime membership into the 11-99 foundation. My only goal was to get the infamous 'get out of jail' free license plate frame.'
Just because you have health insurance through ObamaCare does not mean you get to see a doctor.
And prepare to die.
Well I guess you take what you can get when it comes to national fame.
Well I think for most people a single request is more than enough. When you're going on year three of making requests, well...
And since we seem to be entering the age of quick territorial snatch-and-grabs from your neighbors, beware the Senkaku temptation:
If Chinese troops were to seize the Senkakus, might they also wrest the nearby Ryukyu Islands from Japan? It's not so far-fetched: Japanese strategists fret about how to forestall a doomsday scenario in the Ryukyus, the southwestern island chain that arcs from Japan's home islands southwest toward Taiwan.
Americans should worry as well. The southern tip of the Ryukyu Islands sits only about 80 miles east of the Senkakus. Unlike the uninhabited Senkakus, the Ryukyus host not only roughly 1.5 million Japanese residents, but also the U.S. Marine and Air Force bases that anchor the U.S. presence in the East China Sea. Occupying the Ryukyus would fracture the U.S. strategic position in East Asia - separating U.S. forces based in Japan (to the north) from those at Bahrain, the other permanent U.S. hub in Asia, far to the west. At a bare minimum, U.S. ships and aircraft would have to detour around Chinese-held islands, waters, and skies - incurring the additional time and costs longer voyages entail.
It's got the smell you crave.
Yahoo group. That is all.
The group thingy. And the middle class, brought to you by Carl's Jr.
Plus my Twatter spew.
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Close it up
Mark Steyn: The Long, Slow, Unremarked-Upon Death of Free Speech
I heard a lot of that kind of talk during my battles with the Canadian ‘human rights’ commissions a few years ago: of course, we all believe in free speech, but it’s a question of how you ‘strike the balance’, where you ‘draw the line’… which all sounds terribly reasonable and Canadian, and apparently Australian, too. But in reality the point of free speech is for the stuff that’s over the line, and strikingly unbalanced. If free speech is only for polite persons of mild temperament within government-policed parameters, it isn’t free at all. So screw that.
But I don’t really think that many people these days are genuinely interested in ‘striking the balance’; they’ve drawn the line and they’re increasingly unashamed about which side of it they stand. What all the above stories have in common, whether nominally about Israel, gay marriage, climate change, Islam, or even freedom of the press, is that one side has cheerfully swapped that apocryphal Voltaire quote about disagreeing with what you say but defending to the death your right to say it for the pithier Ring Lardner line: ‘“Shut up,” he explained.’
A generation ago, progressive opinion at least felt obliged to pay lip service to the Voltaire shtick. These days, nobody’s asking you to defend yourself to the death: a mildly supportive retweet would do. But even that’s further than most of those in the academy, the arts, the media are prepared to go. As Erin Ching, a student at 60-grand-a-year Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, put it in her college newspaper the other day: ‘What really bothered me is the whole idea that at a liberal arts college we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion.’ Yeah, who needs that? There speaks the voice of a generation: celebrate diversity by enforcing conformity.
I actually noticed this story on Twitchy, because a left-leaning comic, Patton Oswald, approvingly retweeted the link, stating he agreed with the general thrust, and for that blasphemy, was then set upon by the zealous inquisitors of the Holy Universal Unification Church of Shut Up.
Hillary Clinton Will Soon Be Grandmother
Chelsea Clinton announced her pregnancy.
The 16-week-old fetus has been signed to a six-figure deal to host a new MSNBC show.
Chelsea has reported it kicking, for which the unborn child has received a Walter Cronkite Excellence in Journalism award.
I didn't care about the "Chelsea is pregnant" storyline -- who can keep up with our useless princelings? -- until I saw the Drudge headline, "Grandma Hillary."
Does this help her or hurt her?
Director Bryan Singer Sued for Alleged Sexual Abuse of 15-Year-Old Boy
A lot of details claimed in this suit, and not just about the alleged drugging/sex.
But rather about a Hollywood culture that enables the abuse of children. I'll refer you to Variety for that.
X-Men: Days of Future Past” director Bryan Singer has been accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy in 1999 in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Hawaii federal court.
The plaintiff, Michael Egan, claims he was 15 years old when Singer forcibly sodomized him, among other allegations. Egan’s lawyers, led by Jeff Herman, allege that Singer provided him with drugs and alcohol and flew him to Hawaii on more than one occasion in 1999. His suit claims battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy by unreasonable intrusion, and it seeks unspecified damages.
Singer’s attorney, Marty Singer, called the lawsuit “absurd and defamatory.”
Herman is a sexual abuse attorney based in Boca Raton, Fla., who also represented the plaintiffs who accused Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash of sexual abuse. He and Egan are scheduled to appear at a press conference on Thursday in Beverly Hills.
“Hollywood has a problem with the sexual exploitation of children,” Herman said in a statement. “This is the first of many cases I will be filing to give these victims a voice and to expose the issue.”
Speaking of Rape-Rape... Has Whoopi Goldberg finally found something she's qualified to do?
More: The Daily Mail reports more on the "boy parties."
USAToday Stealth-Edits on the Ukraine Leaflets Story
I quoted the story as it was written some hours ago.
But they've changed it, without acknowledging the change.
WAS: Pushilin acknowledged the flyers were distributed by his organization but he disavowed their content, according to the web site Jews of Kiev, Ynet reported…
NOW IS: Pushilin acknowledged that fliers were distributed under his organization's name in Donetsk but denied any connection to them, Ynet reported in Hebrew.
This is a major change in reporting -- from Pushilin admitting his men to handing them out, to a mere acknowledgement that he's aware of leaftlets purporting to come from his organization.
They have gone from reporting he publicly admitted that his men were dropping these leaflets, to him denying that.
This is not just a minor change in wording. This reverses, completely, their reporting on a key point.
We do not criticize the media for getting things wrong-- everyone gets things wrong, especially in fast-moving stories, and especially in cases of relying upon a translation.
But this is a major change to the original reporting and must be acknowledged as such -- otherwise people (like me) will go on thinking USAToday's original report was correct.
We don't get mad that they get things wrong. That is understandable.
We get mad that they can't bring themselves to admit they've gotten something wrong, and forthrightly correct the record.
And I have to think this is borne of incompetence. Competent people do not fear corrections, because they know they're getting things 90% right, and that's all you can hope for in this world.
It's the incompetents who are fearful that their next screw-up may mean their heads.
So I have to assume that USAToday considers itself incompetent, and on thin ice as far as the accuracy of its reporting.
Thanks to Anon Y. Mouse, who spotted this and was persistent in alerting me about it.
Unrelated, But: In Taranto's column discussing the politicization of the Census Bureau -- which, as DrewMTips notes, is a "crazy rightwing conspiracy theory" proven true -- he has a funny thing at the end.
"This is not your grandfather's NATO anymore."--Thomas Friedman, New York Times, March 30, 2003
"Friends, we are in the midst of an energy crisis--but this is not your grandfather's energy crisis."--Friedman, New York Times, Jan. 20, 2006
"Well, my general view is that this isn't your father's recession; it's your grandfather's recession."--former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, New York Times website, Feb. 13, 2009
"To appreciate the problem, you need to know that this isn't your father's recession. It's your grandfather's, or maybe even (as I'll explain) your great-great-grandfather's."--Krugman, New York Times, Feb. 20, 2009
"I've been saying for almost a decade now that what we have these days aren't your father's recessions, they're your grandfather's recessions."--Krugman, New York Times website, Jan. 17, 2011
"And this is the relevant history we should be looking at: this isn't your father's slump, it's your grandfather's slump."--Krugman, New York Times website, Sept. 19, 2011
"If Israelis want to escape that fate, it is very important that they understand that we're not your grandfather's America anymore."--Friedman, New York Times, Nov. 11, 2012
"This is not your grandfather's battlefield."--Friedman, New York Times, Feb. 2, 2014
"We're not dealing anymore with your grandfather's Israel, and they're not dealing anymore with your grandmother's America either."--Friedman, New York Times, April 16, 2014
This is not your grandfather's cliched hackery.