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April 20, 2014

Sunday Morning Book Thread 04-20-2014: The Day The World Changed Forever [OregonMuse]

—Open Blogger

resurrection 3.jpg

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.

(Ephesians 6:12)

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.

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Posted by Open Blogger at 10:10 AM Comments

Sunday Morning Open Thread


Happy Easter!

Posted by Andy at 07:22 AM Comments

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:


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Posted by LauraW. at 11:42 PM Comments

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.

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Posted by LauraW. at 10:30 PM Comments

Overnight Thread: Desserts that Look Kinda Sweaty


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Posted by LauraW. at 09:35 PM Comments

Announcing The First In A Series Movie thread - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]

—Open Blogger

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.

Posted by Open Blogger at 08:00 PM Comments

The Nightmare Before Easter Open Thread - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]

—Open Blogger

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.

22 Easter Bunnies That Are Definitely Serial Killers

Don't believe me?

Check below the fold.

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Posted by Open Blogger at 07:09 PM Comments

Weekend Travel Thread: Pet Edition [Y-not]

—Open Blogger

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?

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Posted by Open Blogger at 05:29 PM Comments

The Shot Heard Round the World: April 19, 1775 [Y-not]

—Open Blogger

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.

Posted by Open Blogger at 05:26 PM Comments

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.

You're welcome.

Posted by DrewM. at 04:39 PM Comments

Saturday Car Thread 04/19/14 - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse & Countrysquire]

—Open Blogger

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:

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Posted by Open Blogger at 03:21 PM Comments

Saturday Gardening Thread: Easter Weekend Edition [Y-not and WeirdDave]

—Open Blogger

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!

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Posted by Open Blogger at 11:27 AM Comments

Open Thread for Politics 4-19-14 [WeirdDave]

—Open Blogger

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:

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Posted by Open Blogger at 11:26 AM Comments


—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.

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Posted by Dave In Texas at 10:09 AM Comments

Saturday Morning Open Thread


It's still morning, right?

Posted by Andy at 08:50 AM Comments

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:

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Posted by Ace at 09:03 PM Comments

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.

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Posted by Ace at 07:12 PM Comments

Krauthammer: I No Longer Support Disclosure in Campaign Donations, Because Zealots Will Destroy Free Speech Rights By Ruining Lives and Wrecking Careers


I think this problem can be subsumed under my general political observation that "People are just awful."

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:

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Posted by Ace at 05:39 PM Comments

AoSHQ Podcast: Guest, Jonah Goldberg


National Review Online's Jonah Goldberg joins Ace, Drew, John and me for cocktails and banter and cocktails.

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

Listen: Stitcher | MP3 Download
Subscribe: rss.pngRSS | itunes_modern.pngiTunes

Browse (and even search!) the archives

Follow on Twitter:
AoSHQ Podcast (@AoSHQPodcast)
Ace (@AceofSpadesHQ)
Drew M. (@DrewMTips)
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Andy (@TheH2 and @AndyM1911)

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.

Posted by Andy at 05:03 PM Comments

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.)

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Posted by Ace at 04:31 PM Comments

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.

Posted by Ace at 03:33 PM Comments

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?

Posted by Ace at 02:42 PM Comments

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.

Posted by Ace at 01:22 PM Comments

Elizabeth Warren Angry That People Challenged Her Claims of Being a Cherokee


On the warpath.

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


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.

Posted by Ace at 12:45 PM Comments

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.

Posted by DrewM. at 10:57 AM Comments

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....

2. Mitt Romney can't or won't shut the hell up.

[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.

Posted by DrewM. at 10:11 AM Comments

Top Headline Comments (4-18-2014)


Happy Friday, all.

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Posted by Andy at 07:01 AM Comments

Overnight Open Thread (4-17-2014)– Not Sure Edition


10 Things 'Idiocracy' Predicted Would Happen, and Sadly Already Have

Garbage Avalanches

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:

Ow My Balls Society!

Continue reading

Posted by Maetenloch at 10:44 PM Comments

Mark Steyn: The Long, Slow, Unremarked-Upon Death of Free Speech


"This is the aging of the dawn of Aquarius."

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.

Posted by Ace at 07:57 PM Comments

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?

Posted by Ace at 05:55 PM Comments

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."

Posted by Ace at 04:57 PM Comments

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.

Grandfather Clause

"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.

Posted by Ace at 04:19 PM Comments

"The Repeal Debate Is and Should Be Over:" Oblahablah Open Thread


Oblahblah's talking about... something or other.

Oh, he's doing a victory lap over the CBO's new estimated numbers that claim that Obamacare's unaffordable costs will be slightly lower.

Oh God, it's just a general defense of Oblahblahcare yet again, calling for us to "move on." Now he's talking about the "50 or so votes to repeal this law" (a debunked number, of course; see, he's lying) and how those votes could have been used to "create jobs" or something.

"The repeal debate is and should be over."

[Update - Andy]: A key takeaway from President TrollSoHard's prepared remarks lies:

Posted by Ace at 03:42 PM Comments

Paul Krugman Gets Pwn3d Like a Loudmouth in a Woody Allen Movie


There's a famous scene in Annie Hall when a blowhard idiot pontificates about Fellini and Marshall McLuhan. Woody Allen (or "Alvie Singer") becomes increasingly annoyed by the boor, until he at last pulls the actual Marshall McLuhan out from behind an obstruction.

Marshall McLuhan then tells the guy he's an idiot, and that he "know[s] nothing of my work."

Why am I telling about you this? It's on YouTube:

Continue reading

Posted by Ace at 03:02 PM Comments

Ron Paul Praises "Fantastic" Article on His Website Claiming 9/11 Was Perpetrated by the American Government


Ron Paul offers his standard defense here, the same defense he's used with respect to, say, his frequent appearances on the Alex Jones show -- he's such a rootin'-tootin' fan of liberty that he does not wish to discriminate against anyone on the basis of their belief system. More speech, not less. More voices, not fewer.

Of course, Ron Paul does not publish criticisms of Ron Paul on his website, nor refutations of his own various claims; if he's published a "Three Cheers for the Fed!" piece, I don't know about it.

So I find his claim that these pieces just keep on making it onto his website and into his newsletters (sometimes above the signature "Ron Paul") merely because of a studious commitment to strong-form non-discrimination against view points to be false and phony.

Obviously he exerts some degree of personal choice and discretion when he chooses to publish crap like this. Obviously he thinks this article has something important to tell us all -- indeed, he claims that 99% of it is "fantastic."

Reason has reprinted almost one-third of the article, or, by their accounting, 30%.

If 99% of the piece was "fantastic," that means that somewhere around 96% of the below must be "fantastic" as well:

The most serious blow of all is the dawning realization everywhere that Washington's crackpot conspiracy theory of 9/11 is false. Large numbers of independent experts as well as more than one hundred first responders have contradicted every aspect of Washington's absurd conspiracy theory. No aware person believes that a few Saudi Arabians, who could not fly airplanes, operating without help from any intelligence agency, outwitted the entire National Security State, not only all 16 US intelligence agencies but also all intelligence agencies of NATO and Israel as well.

Nothing worked on 9/11....

For the first time in history low temperature, short-lived, fires on a few floors caused massive steel structures to weaken and collapse. For the first time in history 3 skyscrapers fell at essentially free fall acceleration without the benefit of controlled demolition removing resistance from below.

Two-thirds of Americans fell for this crackpot story. The left-wing fell for it, because they saw the story as the oppressed striking back at America's evil empire. The right-wing fell for the story, because they saw it as the demonized Muslims striking out at American goodness. President George W. Bush expressed the right-wing view very well: "They hate us for our freedom and democracy."


Italians were among the first to make video presentations challenging Washington's crackpot story of 9/11. The ultimate of this challenge is the 1 hour and 45 minute film, "Zero." You can watch it here. [You can google this Truther movie if you like -- ace.]


It is impossible for anyone who watches this film to believe one word of the official explanation of 9/11.

The conclusion is increasingly difficult to avoid that elements of the US government blew up three New York skyscrapers in order to destroy Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah and to launch the US on the neoconservatives agenda of US world hegemony.

Paul goes on to claim that anyone who finds fault with him for continuing to peddle batshit-crazy conspiracy theories which appeal to infirm and broken minds are guilty of "political correctness."

It's not political correctness.

I know a lot of people on the right really dig conspiracy theories (as well as people on the left), but for people who take a more sober view of events and intentionality, who don't view at as an action-packed thriller movie in which all significant historical events are hatched by a conveniently-detestable Black Hat Villain or Black Hat Organization working the levers and dials of History, this mode of thinking is crude, childish, and deranged.

Human beings are not particularly well-suited for thinking about abstraction. When humans talk about the quantum-level world, we describe in terms of "orbitals" and "spin," even though those things have nothing at all to do with quantum mechanics, and in fact are deeply misleading.

But we need to relate these imponderable abstractions to something that makes sense to us on a gut level, something that we have some tangible appreciation for.

Large events and impersonal social forces are often too big to wrap our minds around. They are largely abstract, and hard for us to process. Conspiracy thinking reduces large impersonal forces to something the average human can comprehend: Human intention, human villainy.

We all understand that some people are just wicked and cruel. And thus wicked, cruel events are most easily digested as originating from something comprehensible -- these Black Hat Villains planned this all.

When horrible things happen, we have emotional reactions, of course. But emotion is geared to be directed at other human beings.

In fact, even when we know exactly who committed a particularly distressing and large evil act -- as in the case of 9/11, or JFK's assassination -- some of us still find the need to postulate larger villainies behind it all.

More emotionally satisfying villainies.

That a great man (so the thinking goes) like John F. Kennedy could have been killed by a failure, a loser, a broken Communist weakling like Lee Harvey Oswald is too much to bear.

Thus, John F. Kennedy must have been murdered by the "dark chatter" of the rightwing in Dallas 1963.

Or even, as Oliver Stone's film suggests: President Lyndon Baines Johnson. After all, who has the power to kill one Warrior King but another Warrior King?

This isn't about political correctness-- it's about an aversion to thinking that frankly isn't "political" at all.

This sort of thinking is Shadow Politics. What it really is a psychological reaction to the incomprehensible and quasi-religious mythmaking.

It may appear political -- it's designed to -- but what it really is a deep psychological drive to make some kind of tangible sense out of a chaotic world that seems too big, and inventing mythic stories to explain it all, scarcely any different than early humans sitting around the campfire and positing that each night, a great dark serpent devoured the sun, and each morning he vomited it back up.

This isn't about political correctness, because it's not even about politics in the first place.

It's really just about deciding who is relatively sane, and whose judgment can be (to some extent) trusted, and who seems to be haunted by the Demons and Ghost-Snakes of 100,000 BC, and who seems, quite frankly, to be crazy.

It's Interesting That He Cites the Italians for Their Perspicacity... because that lets me talk about my favorite Italian word, furbo,, meaning full of cunning and slyness.

"Furbo" is very important in Italian culture. Even more than in our own.

Let's say, for example, I say I believe George Bush that Al Qaeda perpetrated 9/11.

The fact that I'm saying I believe him exposes me to several risks. What if he's lying? If he's lying to me, he's played me for a fool. I would have shown that my furbo is rather weak.

But what if I instantly claim he's lying, instead? Well, then I can never be accused of having had the wool pulled over my eyes by him. My furbo would be strong.

Now, most cultures, of course, respect skeptics and treat the guileless as amiable fools.

But in many cultures, you can only show so much furbo before you begin looking like a fool from the other direction. Not a fool because of what you believe; but a fool because of the incredibly long list of things you don't.

Italy, however, prizes furbo to the extent that it's pretty hard to be considered a fool based on your conspiracy-theorizing. Italy overvalues furbo, and undervalues skepticism about skepticism itself.

Italians pride themselves on their ability to offer a cynical conspiracy-theory counter-explanation for any event they witness. That guy just donated a million lira to an anti-hunger organization? Well, it's probably because he'll actually be selling them services and goods in their anti-hunger efforts. He'll wind up making out like a bandit, believe you me.

Furbo is king in Italy. And there's not nearly enough skepticism about these barely-considered conspiracy theories offered as alt-history explanations for everything. It's very hard to go too far with your furbo in Italy.

The more outrageous your conspiracy theory -- like, for example, that Amanda Knox killed her roommate because she was part of a Satanic cult that collected female genitals for use in summoning rituals -- the more furbo you're showing, and all the better.

I mean, sure there's no evidence against Knox and she appears innocent. But that's just what the Satan Cult would arrange, isn't it? If you believe her when she says "I'm not part of a Satanic cult killing women in ritual sex-orgies," you expose yourself to the risk of having her out-furbo you.

I mean, what if she's actually guilty? There's a one in a million chance of that, and we just can't take that risk.

Now in some quarters in America, furbo is also king. In Ron Paul's world, for example.

But we're not quite as enthusiastic about furbo in America, so the rest of us view this all as the babbling of silly clowns.

Posted by Ace at 01:42 PM Comments

Well: Leaflet Handed Out by Pro-Russian Forces Holding Eastern Ukraine Orders All Jews Over 16 Years Old to Register as Jews, Listing All of Their Property They Own


Chilling, but at the moment this is very sketchy and unconfirmed.

A leaflet distributed in Donetsk, Ukraine calling for all Jews over 16 years old to register as Jews marred the Jewish community’s Passover festivities Monday (Passover eve), replacing them with feelings of concern.

The leaflet demanded the city’s Jews supply a detailed list of all the property they own, or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportion and see their assets confiscated.

However, we have yet no confirmation of this story, nor any admittance that the leaflets are real. The leaflets, after all, could be some kind of agent provocateur operation to discredit the pro-Russian insurgents.

But... I don't know about that. I hate to cast aspersions on a large population, but it's my understanding that Ukraine is fairly anti-semitic. So I don't know what the PR effect of a fake leafletting campaign would be.

Unless those distributing the leaflets think Jews Control The World and hence that any perceived threat to Ukraine's Jewry would result in NATO storming in to repel the Russian insurgents.

Which is its own issue.

Update: I needn't have been as skeptical as I was. They're real.

From USAToday:

The leaflets bore the name of Denis Pushilin, who identified himself as chairman of “Donetsk’s temporary government,” and were distributed near the Donetsk synagogue and other areas, according to the report.

Pushilin acknowledged the flyers were distributed by his organization but he disavowed their content, according to the web site Jews of Kiev, Ynet reported…

So Pushilin says he doesn't agree with the order, but acknowledges his men are in fact ordering Jews to register.

Jesus wept.

Posted by Ace at 12:38 PM Comments

Obama's Deliberately Trolling the GOP


Already mentioned by @theh2 (Andy) in the morning comments, and boy, I sure wish he'd mentioned it for the podcast -- great piece at Slate by John Dickerson, linked from Hot Air.

We've talked about the Buzzfeedification of politics but this would seem to mean that's now an actual strategy.

Obama Trolls the GOP

The refined cynicism of the president.

By John Dickerson

How do I get you to pay attention to this story? I could type out a balanced tale about an incremental change in White House spin and message control, relying on your discernment, patience, and kindness toward all the creatures of the Earth. Or, I could say that Barack Obama is a cynical and manipulative liar. The first approach would get a modest number of thoughtful readers, but they probably wouldn't stay on the page very long. The second would excite the emotions. Conservatives would approve. Liberals would denounce it and point out the exaggerations. My editor would smile because the controversy would attract more readers.

This is trolling. I've decided against it, but the White House has not. CBS's Major Garrett writes in National Journal about a new version of the “stray voltage” theory of communication in which the president purposefully overstates his case knowing that it will create controversy. Garrett describes it this way: “Controversy sparks attention, attention provokes conversation, and conversation embeds previously unknown or marginalized ideas in the public consciousness.”


Under this approach, a president wants the fact-checkers to call him out (again and again) because that hubbub keeps the issue in the news, which is good for promoting the issue to the public. It is the political equivalent of “there is no such thing as bad publicity” or the quote attributed to Mae West (and others): “I don't care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right.” The tactic represents one more step in the embrace of cynicism that has characterized President Obama's journey in office.


Facts, schmacts. As long as people are talking about an issue where my party has an advantage with voters, it’s good.

Major Garrett writes of this "stray voltage" tactic here.

The questioning of Obama's use of a Census Bureau statistic that the median wages of working women in America are 77 percent of median wages earned by men lasted almost all week. The story revved into mini-overdrive when the White House defensively swatted away criticism that salaries on Obama's watch—for which the American Enterprise Institute used the same median wages metric applied by the Census Bureau—showed that women in the president's employ earned 88 cents for every dollar earned by men.

All to the delight of a White House desperate to inject the issue into the political bloodstream and amplify otherwise doomed Senate Democratic efforts to make it easier for women to sue and win damages for workplace pay differences. The controversy that played out on front pages, social media, TV, and radio did just that.

This is the White House theory of "Stray Voltage." It is the brainchild of former White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe, whose methods loom large long after his departure. The theory goes like this: Controversy sparks attention, attention provokes conversation, and conversation embeds previously unknown or marginalized ideas in the public consciousness....

A top White House adviser told me last week's pay gap dust up was a "perfect" example of stray voltage. This time it was premeditated.

Like the typical sort of blog-trolling, Obama is basically writing grabby, preposterous, eye-catching, false headlines. And as with the various outfits which practice trolling all day long, he doesn't expect to catch flack for his mangling of the facts for viral hits, because no one expects a Salon headline to be honest in the first place, and, increasingly, few expect honesty from a President, either.

So, in order to maximize viral shares, you just lie. You lie small, you lie big. You like outrageously, you lie entertainingly. This makes liberals link you in approval -- you're finally "getting tough" with the GOP -- and it makes conservatives link you to argue against you.

Whatever the reason, you're getting linked. Your claims, no matter how false, unfair, or ridiculous, are now the day's number one linked story.

Obama came into office as the world's first truly literary president, a rara avis (according to super-fan Christopher Buckley), and he goes out of office as a Gawker blog editor with a keen eye for search engine optimization and listicles.

Posted by Ace at 11:38 AM Comments

Top Headline Comments (4-17-2014)


President Bozo McUnpresidential and his halfwit sidekick Choppers are down with all the cool kids, yo!

(You should thank me for hiding the image)

This is a good piece that I was going to mention in last night's podcast recording but didn't have time for.

The Obama presidency is basically a gigantic Democrat Internet trolling operation. That explains so, so much, doesn't it?

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Posted by Andy at 06:44 AM Comments

Overnight Open Thread (4-16-2014)


This is One Case Where I Actually Prefer the Cover

To the original even with the whole Pennywise thing going on. Supposedly the title to the song was inspired by this picture of George Brett (along with lots of teenage angst).

In the War on Standards Standards Actually Won a Round

In one case on whether employers can use background and credit checks in hiring. The courts rejected the EEOC's complaint.

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a challenge by the EEOC to the use of credit checks by Kaplan Higher Education Corporation. The very first sentence of the opinion, by Judge Ray Kethledge, calls out the EEOC for its hypocricy:
In this case, the EEOC sued the defendant for using the same type of background check that the EEOC itself uses.

The EEOC claimed that these kind of checks had a disproportionate effect on minorities and to prove it they brought in a crack team of "race detectives" to guess at applicants' race based on their drivers license picture.

The way the EEOC attempted to prove disparate impact is quite revealing and rather disconcerting. To evaluate the racial impact of a hiring policy, one must, of course, know the race of applicants. In this case, Kaplan did not record this information. Thus, the EEOC's "expert" had to eyeball copies of applicant driver's licenses and, in effect, guess the race. (The expert also had the names of applicants; though the EEOC insisted they weren't used to determine race, the Sixth Circuit seemed skeptical of that claim).

To guess the race of applicants from the photos on their licenses, the expert used a process called "race rating." He assembled a team of five race raters each of whom has experience in what the EEOC calls "multicultural, multiracial, treatment outcome research."

And the Court was having none of this.

The EEOC brought this case on the basis of a homemade methodology, crafted by a witness with no particular expertise to craft it, administered by persons with no particular expertise to administer it, tested by no one, and accepted only by the witness himself. The district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding [the expert's] testimony.

I almost expected the court to follow up with a Billy Madison judgment here.

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Posted by Maetenloch at 10:37 PM Comments

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George Will: Wis. prosecutors abuse the law for partisan ends
"U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa, revolted by the police-state arrogance of some elected prosecutors, has stopped a partisan abuse of law enforcement that was masquerading as political hygiene." [rdbrewer]

Stephen Hayes: Who’s Crazy?
"[T]he Obama administration’s strategy isn’t intended for the country at large so much as it is for the Washington press corps. The goal is to convince reporters that by investigating Benghazi they are doing the bidding of crackpots and political hacks." [rdbrewer]
Video: Rogers and Clarke
THE Rogers and Clarke. Via @VirgilTMorant. [rdbrewer]

Daily Mail: The sun's 'long-lost BROTHER' revealed: Star born from same gas cloud discovered - and it could host planets with alien life
They've been looking for the sun's sibling stars for a long time, so this is pretty cool. If they're right. Also from Daily Mail: New behind-the-scenes Star Wars pics. [rdbrewer]

Editors: There’s Something about Harry
"The Editors would like to extend our condolences to Senator Harry Reid and his family as they go through this difficult time. While we can only guess at the exact nature of the psychiatric or neurological trauma the Senate majority leader has suffered, we assume that it is severe...." (Pictured: Leaked MRI slice of Harry Reid's brain.) [rdbrewer]

My Modern Met: Artist creates patterns in snow
A couple of years old, but pretty neat. More pictures here. [rdbrewer]

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Boko Haram and the Kidnapped Schoolgirls
"The Nigerian terror group reflects the general Islamist hatred of women's rights. When will the West wake up?" [rdbrewer]
Charles Krauthammer, WaPo: Benghazi: How to do the hearings right
"All that matters is whether the committee produces new, important facts. If it does, it will be impossible to ignore." [rdbrewer]

Joseph Thorndike: Piketty Is Wrong: Americans Don't Have A 'Passion For Equality'
"[H]e misconstrues the political history of American taxation." [rdbrewer]

Mary Katharine Ham: See No Evil
"A suspected arms dealer, an allegedly crooked mayor dealing in White House access, and a cowardly attorney general walk into a bar. Even if it’s the bar right next door to The Washington Post, would they get any coverage? If they’re Democrats, the answer is probably no." [rdbrewer]
Turkish TV's variant of The Dating Game is played for high stakes.
Contestant talks about his background: "She was accidentally killed when I swung the axe." [ArthurK]
Pundit Press: Flashback- Clinton: “Poverty” Behind Boko Haram, ‘Not Radical Islam’
"Mr. Clinton not only stated that poverty was the cause, but that specifically, Islam and religion could not be blamed in any way." And Hillary would not designate them a terrorist organization. [rdbrewer]

Mail Online: State-of-the-art RV boasts eight flat screen TVs, sky lounge rooftop, tanning beds and fireplaces
Why not just stay home? [rdbrewer]
The Telegraph: Why avoiding sunshine could kill you
"But the new research, which followed nearly 30,000 women over 20 years, suggests that women who stay out of the sun are at increased risk of skin melanomas and are twice as likely to die from any cause, including cancer." Misleading correlation, right? People with sensitive skin stay out of the sun but still get cancer. Less healthy people aren't found at the beach. [rdbrewer]

Bill Schneider: Elites focus on inequality; real people just want growth
"Democrats believe income inequality is a populist cause. But it may be less of a populist issue than an issue promoted by the cultural elite: well-educated professionals who are economically comfortable but not rich. There’s new evidence that ordinary voters care more about growth." Income inequality is in part an effort to innoculate themselves against bad feeling due to their status, no? [rdbrewer]

Smithsonian: France Is Spending 3 Million Euros to Save the Great Hamster of Alsace
"There are only a few hundred Great Hamsters of Alsace left in Alsace. The only wild hamster in Europe, the Great Hamster of Alsace (also known as the European Hamster), grows to be about 10 inches long and has adorable black and white markings." Wild hamsters? I thought their natural habitat was orange and yellow plastic. [rdbrewer]

John C. Wright, Intercollegiate Review: Heinlein, Hugos, and Hogwash
"Robert Heinlein could not win a Hugo Award today.... Science fiction is under the control of the thought police. The chains are invisible, but real. For a genre that glories in counting George Orwell as one of its own, this is ironic, to say the least." [rdbrewer]

‘Homo Rapiens’: Anti-PIV RadFem Goes Total Moonbat on Climate Change
"'The unstoppable death-machine has always only been orchestrated by the homo rapiens. By men. YOU. Women are not and have never been responsible for the atrocities committed by men, for men’s global industrial rape and death system.'" Aye carumba. [rdbrewer]

Variety: President Obama at Hollywood Fundraiser: Politics Needs to Break Out of Cycle of ‘Dysfunction’
Talking to zillionaires about inequality. And talking about about politics in Washington as if he's not a part of it--as if he's campaigning. Why can't those darned people in DC do things differently? Too bad he's not in a position to do something about it. Maybe he should run for president or something. [rdbrewer]

Peggy Noonan: The Trouble With Common Core
"Who is responsible for the nonsensical test questions? Who oversees the test makers? Do the questions themselves reflect the guidance given to teachers—i.e., was the teaching itself nonsensical? How was implementation of the overall scheme supposed to work? Who decided the way to take on critics was to denigrate parents...?" [rdbrewer]

Josh Rogin, The Daily Beast: Hillary's State Department Refused to Brand Boko Haram as Terrorists
"The State Department under Hillary Clinton fought hard against placing the al Qaeda-linked militant group Boko Haram on its official list of foreign terrorist organizations for two years." Oopsie daisy. [rdbrewer]

The Hockey Schtick: New paper tells climate scientists how to fudge the numbers supporting overheated climate models
"Folks, this is just plain cheating & fudging.... The co-author of this paper Andrew Dessler has a long and sordid history of making highly questionable assertions in support of the climate scam, and this is yet another blatant example." [rdbrewer]

Josh Kraushaar, National Journal: Jeb and Hillary Are the Wrong Candidates for 2016
"Far too often, political coverage is based on the thinking of consultants and donors, and doesn't pay enough attention to what the voters are actually thinking.... And it's why pundits and donors alike are vastly overrating the prospects of two brand-name candidates for 2016—Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush—and undervaluing the reality that the current political environment is as toxic as it's ever been for lifelong politicians." Somebody said the other day, "Over 300 million people in this country, and we can't find candidates not named Clinton or Bush?" It's grotesque. [rdbrewer]

David Ignatius, WaPo: Obama tends to create his own foreign policy headaches
"Under Obama, the United States has suffered some real reputational damage. I say that as someone who sympathizes with many of Obama’s foreign policy goals. This damage, unfortunately, has largely been self-inflicted by an administration that focuses too much on short-term messaging." [rdbrewer]

Fay Voshell: North Korean Regime's Days May Finally Be Numbered
"North Korea is Mao Zedong’s China on speed: brutal, demanding complete conformity to communist ideology, and in the thrall of a messianic and tyrannical dynasty. Now the country is rapidly outpacing the Chinese leadership’s ability to contain its renegade behavior...." Via @ParisParamus. [rdbrewer]

Joe Scarborough FLIPS OUT : Why Do Female Columnists Protect Bill Clinton's Misogyny?
"Those columns led host Joe Scarborough to launch into a 6+ plus minute rant against those columnists who, just like in the 1990s, attack Lewinsky and give Bill Clinton a free pass." [rdbrewer]
An Internet Classic by Leon H. Wolf: Meghan McCain’s Dirty, Sexy Politics: A Review
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