Monday, January 31, 2011

Quote of the Year Finalist

... I know it's still only January, but this has to be in the running for the quote of the year. Judge Roger Vinson has basically struck down the entire health care bill, saying this:
It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place.

Editorial Control

... our Maximum Leader exercises it daily.

It Will Now Be Referred To As The C&W Words

Secular Apostate turns us on to a race spat at UC Irvine that is stereotypical* of the kind of fussing that goes on about race these days.
A California university says it was bad taste to serve chicken and waffles on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Officials at the University of California, Irvine, say the menu of stereotypical black food was served on Jan. 17 — the first day of the school’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. symposium.

The dining hall advertised the meal as an “MLK Holiday Special.”

The co-chairman of the school’s Black Student Union and another student lodged formal complaints.
Complaints about what? Last week I went to Bonnie Jean's Soul Food here in San Diego. One of my friends had their famous ... Chicken and Waffles. The food was great and the service friendly. They make all of their meals from scratch when you order, so it takes about half an hour to get your food. They've cleverly erected** a set of shelves containing family games for you to play while you wait. A couple at a table nearby played Uno*** while their food was prepared.

As for UC Irvine, I wonder if any of the diners listened to Niggaz Wit Attitudes music as they walked up to the dining hall.

Update: The editorial staff of The Scratching Post would like to apologize for showing insensitivity in the previous sentence. We used a term that should not be spoken in polite company and should be a referred to by it's initial. We acknowledge our mistake and beg your forgiveness. No one among the Clever-Americans should ever have to hear the word "wit." We fully support the efforts of sensitive academics everywhere to make our speech witless.

* - This will now be referred to as the "S" word in sensitivity to Abnormally-Normal-Americans.

** - This will now be referred to as the "E" word in sensitivity to Oversexed-Americans.

*** - This will now be referred to as the "U" word in sensitivity to Math-challenged-Americans.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hillary and Barack Thread the Needle

I thought this was about as good a response to the Egyptian crisis as one could hope for out of Washington.
WASHINGTON--Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for an "orderly, peaceful transition" to a "real democracy" in Egypt, and said the U.S. wants to see free and fair elections in Egypt as a result of the antigovernment unrest.

Although U.S. officials have been careful not to call for the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Mrs. Clinton's comments on the Sunday morning news shows seemed to inch the U.S. government toward pushing the Egyptian president to let go of his grip on power.
It would also seem to doom Mubarak. Elections would not be good to him.

The Beginnings of Anarchy

Judith Levy has the best synopsis of the Egyptian rioting and it can be found here. A tidbit:
ON THE STREETS: The beginnings of anarchy. The police have thrown in the towel, leaving the maintenance of law and order to the army -- but the soldiers inside the tanks, who have chosen for the most part to stand by inactive while crowds pour into the streets in defiance of the dawn-to-dusk curfew, are also doing little to keep the protesters safe.
It's definitely worth a click to read the whole thing. Here's some video of the army and the protestors interacting:

More from Ms. Levy:
WITHIN THE MILITARY: Egypt has the draft. Unlike its policemen, its soldiers are not in uniform voluntarily. From Mubarak's perspective, the men inside the tanks could have gone either way, and they are indeed showing themselves to be undecided at best: they are neither cracking down on the protesters nor actively defending them. Many striking images are circulating of soldiers emerging from their tanks to be held aloft on the shoulders of protesters, but less mention is being made of the protesters urging the soldiers to open fire on the riot police -- a step they refused to take. The army has not formally taken any side and is unlikely to do so until it becomes clearer whether or not Suleiman -- an ex-general who is perceived as the army's candidate -- will take power.
Check out all the wreckage in the streets. Also, consider this: the streets themselves are being wrecked. An M-60A1 tank, Egypt's primary tank, weighs in at around 50 tons. Once you start doing donuts around the main streets, the asphalt is toast. After this thing dies down and Egypt returns to something resembling normalcy, shipping within Cairo is going to be problematic.

On the plus side, those tanks are delivering a Keynesian's dream: shovel-ready projects. Yay!

Update: Dig the looting going on in the last 30 seconds of the video. I love the guy with the plasma TV in a box.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Reagan Telling Soviet Union Jokes

... can be found here. They were great!

Link of the Day

Cat Vomits on Sofa; Climate of Hate Blamed.


Our Knight-Protector Adds A Crucial Teammate To His Staff

Sir, the residents of the Catican will sleep even more soundly than before ...
Oh goodness. I can picture the shredded upholstery and window blinds now. Not to mention feeling the sting of needlepoint claws sinking into bare legs as I walk through a dimly lit house. So how the blazes did I get talked into going to the animal shelter "just to look around and see what they have". Right. I should have seen that one coming.
Well done!

Cheezburger of the Day

... maybe of the month!

Friday, January 28, 2011


The thing that jumped out at me from these videos is the fierceness of the clashes. It's not lobbing a few Molotov cocktails followed by some tear gas followed by a few gestures and running away. These people are angry.

I'll confess, I'm not sure who the players are. The drama, however, is unmistakable.

Update: I did a tiny bit of research. According to the WSJ, is driven by economics and corruption. It doesn't seem to be the kind of thing that could be blamed on the Jews.

A Proposed Location for the First 2012 Presidential Debate

Let's do it at the United Artists Theater in Detroit. Without renovations. Question #1: What did we get for $850B+ of Stimuloid Porkgasm™?

Click on the image to go to the source of the photo.

H/T: Secular Apostate.

A Narrowly Averted Catastrophe

The crack editorial staff of The Scratching Post awoke this morning to find that our Interweb Tubes were down. We had only our Droid 2 and Verizon between us and regression into a primitive, savage, possibly cannibalistic state of societal decay. Fortunately, Time Warner rectified the situation before we fell upon each other like wild beasts, burning down our offices in a spasm of prehistoric violence.

It's sobering to realize that civilization balances on the edge of just such a knife every day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cheezburger of the Day

This Is Not The Time To Talk About Investments In Green Energy And High Speed Rail

The deficit will hit a record high this year. The days of Social Security being used as a piggy bank are over. It's going to be a net seller of Treasuries from here on out.

Meanwhile, Japan, one of our biggest creditors, is starting to go over the cliff.
Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Japan’s credit rating was cut for the first time in nine years by Standard & Poor’s as persistent deflation and political gridlock undermine efforts to reduce a 943 trillion yen ($11 trillion) debt burden.

The world’s most indebted nation is now ranked at AA-, the fourth-highest level, putting the country on a par with China, which likely passed Japan last year to become the second-largest economy. The government lacks a “coherent strategy” to address the nation’s debt, the rating company said in a statement. The outlook for the rating is stable, S&P said.
Coherent strategy?!? What kiond of coherent strategy can you have when you're debt load is 200% of your GDP and you've grown accustomed to massive deficit spending? They're doomed. Before they go down, they're going to sell about $900B of US Treasuries.

So forget about high speed rail and green energy and higher education and all the rest. It's time to grow up.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why Is There a State of the Union Speech Every Year?

Peter Robinson leads an excellent discussion of it on this week's Ricochet podcast.

The Windbag Meets the Irresistable Force

The NYT has this take on Obama's State of the Union call for more spending.

WASHINGTON — At a moment when the momentum in Washington is driving toward slashing budgets and shrinking government, President Obama argued on Tuesday evening that the politics of austerity, mindlessly applied, would amount to a pre-emptive surrender to China, India and a raft of smaller competitors who are investing while Americans are cutting.
In contrast, here's a compound interest table followed by a video of a freight train. (Be sure to multiply the numbers in the table by 1,400,000,000.) Enjoy.

My Take on a Take on the State of the Union Speech

Apparently, there was some kind of gathering in DC where someone gave a speech last night. The speech, as I understand it, was long and dull. It was followed by pundits reacting to it. Elsewhere, physics and chemistry still held sway as did mathematics and the workings of compound interest tables. The PJ Tatler has a partial roundup of reactions. Here's one.
Penny Nance, Concerned Women for America: “President Obama gets an “F” on the idea of a “freeze” on government spending. The President’s plan basically rearranges the deck chairs on the Titanic. It is too little too late to rescue our economy and the current $14 Trillion debt will only continue to grow. Concerned Women for America calls for the President to blah blah blah blah blah*”
Here's my reaction to the reaction.

Honestly, who calls themselves "Concerned Women for America?" They might as well cover themselves in hijabs. Who wants to hear from them, anyway? I want to know what Tiffany from "Hotties for Another Round of Mojitos" had to say about the speech.

* - I'm not sure if she really said "blah blah blah." I lost interest and didn't follow what was written.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Men's Dress Shirts Without A Front Pocket Are Worthless


Philosophically, Is It Really A Victory For Republicans?

The Republicans have retaken the House of Representatives! It was a crushing defeat for statism and massive government! Victory is theirs!

Or is it?

Poverty is a stubborn creature. Democrats have social programs, Republicans have tax cuts and the end result is ...

We've exhausted our Treasury for years to come ...

... and nothing has changed.

The fiscal collapse of the West is a failure of the secular model of humanity. It's a failure of the model that says that if government provides the resources, the willing and eager poor will grab the opportunities and rise out of poverty. The fiscal collapse is validation of the Christian model of humanity where people are fallen, imperfect and sinful and where salvation is individual, not collective. Had we used the Christian model of humanity for the past four decades, we would have known in advance that spending tens of trillions of dollars wasn't going to achieve the goals we set forth.

The government has done everything it could. It spent vast oceans of money, both here and in Europe and Japan. It ran well-intentioned programs managed by competent people educated in our best Universities using the latest advances in science. In the US, after spending $14B more than we took in, the poor, the addicts, the homeless and the drunkards are still all around us. The secular model of salvation has failed, not for want of trying, but because it was wrong from the start.

Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan is all about an individual saving an individual. The Samaritan, upon discovering the beaten and robbed traveller, doesn't form an intergovernmental panel of road safety and he doesn't demand stricter punishment for criminals. He, as an individual, takes care of another individual himself, with his own resources.

Kind of like Homeboy Industries. Dig the story starting around 2:20.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Comment of the Week

... comes from a post by Shannon Love who, blogging over at Chicago Boyz, posted a scathing indictment of the pro-choice fanatacism of the Democrats following the arrest of Dr. Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist who went a little overboard. First, a snippet from the story, then one from Ms. Love.
A doctor whose abortion clinic was described as a filthy, foul-smelling “house of horrors” that was overlooked by regulators for years was charged Wednesday with murder, accused of delivering seven babies alive and then using scissors to kill them ...

He “induced labor, forced the live birth of viable babies in the sixth, seventh, eighth month of pregnancy and then killed those babies by cutting into the back of the neck with scissors and severing their spinal cord,” District Attorney Seth Williams said.
They limited the charges to seven babies because Gosnell had destroyed his records. According to testimony, it wasn't seven, it was hundreds. Ms. Love reacted thusly:
The most disturbing thing I have read is the Philidelphia DAs statement:
“I am aware that abortion is a hot-button topic,” said Williams. “But as District Attorney, my job is to carry out the law. A doctor who knowingly and systematically mistreats female patients, to the point that one of them dies in his so-called care, commits murder under the law. A doctor who cuts into the necks severing the spinal cords of living, breathing babies, who would survive with proper medical attention, is committing murder under the law.”
He’s apologizing to his deep-blue/far-left constituency for having to prosecute the guy for killing hundreds of live babies! That he feels he needs to apologize for prosecuting this case speaks volumes about the left’s extreme and irrational attitudes towards abortion regulation.
If you haven't heard about this story yet (it's hardly made a ripple in the national media), that's probably because they can't figure out how to pin this one on Sarah Palin or the Tea Party. Really, there's not much else to conclude. Hundreds of babies deliberately stabbed to death by a team of people operating in concert over many years and it gets less than 1/100th the attention of a paranoid schizophrenic going off the deep end and shooting people in Tucson.

This story is a treasure trove of societal indicators. I've downloaded and read some of the Grand Jury report in the case. It's worth a scan.

In any case, here was the greatest commentary I've seen yet on this story of Dr. Gosnell's crude, filthy, deranged butcher shop. Commenter flataffect had this to say:
Here I thought the benefit of legalized abortion was that women wouldn’t be forced into the butchery of back-alley abortions, but could go to clean, professional facilities. Now it turns out that the thing was really just about killing babies, after all.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The First Step To Recovery Is Admitting You Have A Problem

Dana Milbank and the Washington Post appear to have hit bottom.
Milbank wrote he was pledging to not write about or mention Palin for the entire month of February. He called on fellow media members to join him with the hope the boycott could be made permanent.
“But today is the first day of the rest of my life. And so, I hereby pledge that, beginning on Feb 1, 2011, I will not mention Sarah Palin – in print, online or on television – for one month. Furthermore, I call on others in the news media to join me in this pledge of a Palin-free February. With enough support, I believe we may even be able to extend the moratorium beyond one month, but we are up against a powerful compulsion, and we must take this struggle day by day.”
Of course, this could just be one of those monster hangovers that makes you swear off the stuff temporarily.

Hatred is pretty addictive stuff, it appears.

We don't hate Sarah. We're not big fans, but she's still OK with us.

For Sarah Palin news during this blackout, stay tuned to our Monk of Miscellaneous Musings' Sarah Sez posts.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cheezburger of the Day

A Little Henry Mancini on a Friday Morning

I came home late from work last night, turned on the tube and on TCM found the second Inspector Clouseau movie, A Shot in the Dark playing. Watching it to the end was the right thing to do because it reaquainted me with Mancini's most excellent theme song, played here by the Joe Loss Orchestra. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Dumbest Generation?

This is a follow-up to the previous post, the video found while clicking around the links associated with the source of the previous video.

Hmmmm. I don't think I buy the idea, but I could be wrong. I definitely agree with the damage done by irreverance for the past.

Oh, If We'd Only Had The Interweb Tubes When I Was In College

I went to UCSD in the early 1980s. At that time, the campus was still peppered with aging 1960s/1970s radicals. These balding, ponytailed, grungy hippies were still students and helped act as the intellectual mentors of the hipsters who ran the Che Cafe, the Committee for World Democracy and all the dimwitted, pathetic lefty groups who were mimeographing signs to staple up on walls telling us that Ronald Reagan was going to lead us into nuclear war*.

These perpetual students would have been the perfect targets of this lovely video. Enjoy. (Warning: Some un-'Post-like language included.)

* - He didn't. He won the Cold War. The hippies moved on to other topics. (See also: warming, global.)

What Do They Do All Day?

Dig this.
ROME (Reuters) – One in five young Italians, or more than 2 million people, are not studying nor working, the highest percentage of "idle" youths in the European Union, the national statistics office said on Wednesday.

ISTAT said that 21.2 percent of Italians aged 15 to 29 were in a statistical group known as NEET -- Not in Education, Employment or Training -- almost double the percentage of inactive youths in Germany.
Is this an indictment of the progressive concept of entitlements or what? All I can say is, Jerry Brown, man. Jerry Brown.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's the Regulations, Stupid, Part 4

Here's a little telltale sign for you.
Housing starts fell 4.3 percent to a 529,000 annual rate, the lowest level since October 2009, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey called for a 550,000 rate. A jump in building permits, a proxy for future construction, may reflect attempts to get approval before changes in building codes took effect at the beginning of this year.
Emphasis mine. That italicized sentence tells you that in the last year, new government regulations have made it harder to build houses.


Just for Fun

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This Is Totally Awesome

Click here.

OK, maybe not totally awesome, but on a scale of 1-10 of awesomosity, this has got to be a 7+.

Laura Tyson Gets Lost in the Faculty Lounge

Economic genius Laura Tyson has written an article telling us all why the jobs haven't come back. "There's not enough demand!" she cries. Actually, Laura, more demand isn't the issue. We get paid too much. That's the deal. We don't have the jobs because companies can hire Chinese, Indians or Mexicans for far less. More regulations, more government spending and more debt isn't going to solve this problem. We just get paid too much. You have to compete for jobs and right now we're losing that competition.

Update: This was unnecessarily nasty and I wanted to delete it, but some of you took the trouble to comment, so I'm leaving it alone.

Leonard Marshall on Overcoming Adversity

My daughter was feeling a little low yesterday. All around she sees other girls for whom things seem to come easily. Some get A's without trying, others are great athletes. After we talked for a while and I shared some stories about people who were more naturally gifted than me, I spent some time looking for something to share with her. I liked this one particularly. Enjoy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Scientists Say We're All Screwed

Batten down the hatches!
A group of more than 100 scientists and experts say in a new report that California faces the risk of a massive "superstorm" that could flood a quarter of the state's homes and cause $300 billion to $400 billion in damage. Researchers point out that the potential scale of destruction in this storm scenario is four or five times the amount of damage that could be wrought by a major earthquake.
If you don't want to read the panting and gasping at the link, I'll synopsize. The global warming which Sarah Palin is causing might bring about massive floods, just like the ones that happen every 300 or so years. We'll know these floods will have been caused by global warming (unlike the previous 6) because scientists writing in peer-reviewed journals said so.

Soon this could be the view from behind the wheel in a Winnebago driving through the Sierra Mountains.

A Chinese Parenting Rebuttal by Supersloth Ayelet Waldman

In today's WSJ, lazy slob Ayelet Waldman sought to provide the Western rebuttal to Amy Chua's piece claiming that Chinese parents kick booty. She failed. Here's a tidbit of her advice to the slovenly.
Here are some of the things that my four children of a Jewish mother were always allowed to do:
  • Participate in any extracurricular activity they wanted, so long as I was never required to drive farther than 10 minutes to get them there, or to sit on a field in a folding chair in anything but the balmiest weather for any longer than 60 minutes.

  • Quit said extracurricular activities, especially if their quitting coincided with league finals that might have demanded participation on my part exceeding the requirements stated above.
Outstanding job standing up for the West, you toad. Quitting is the hallmark of champions, right Ayelet? I guess I can understand the 60 minutes threshold on kids activities. Sometime around minute 58 you probably feel the buzz wearing off and need to race home to mix up another batch of Ron Rico Rum and ValueRite Cola. That would explain the 10 minutes of driving, too, particularly if you took the back way to the event, the one where the cops are rarely seen.

Her column is a prose explanation of why the West can't manage to get up in the morning without borrowing a few tens of millions from the Chinese. For people like Ayelet, the most modest self-denial is an unrealistic expectation.

Update: Ayelet is from Berkley. Well duhhhhh.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Creatures Above and Creatures Below

I didn't do anything special with this little video clip. I liked the way the water moved in and out. There's a 720p version of it in case you want to take the time to watch that.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chameleon Cookies

There's one invention that's just begging to be invented to save our homes from unnecessary strife. Chameleon Cookies - cookies that camoflage themselves. In every family household, the moment comes when you're looking for cookies and discover that someone else ate them. If only the cookies could have hidden themselves away! Think of the nasty family fights you could avoid if only you had self-hiding cookies.

There. That's a winning concept, don't you think? How can this be done? Beats me. I'm just the idea man. You guys take it and run with it. We'll split the profits 50-50.

Cheezburger of the Day

Meat vs. Fur

I've got a simple question.

Why is this OK,

but this isn't?

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Little Pop Music

... from 1930.

This is from the Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers, written by Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar and performed by Lillian Ross, Hal Thompson and Harpo Marx. It's one of my favorites.

Right Now, the Sun is High and the Tide is Low

... and I'm out filming sea creatures! I hope to have some good results to share some time this weekend.

A Little More on Chinese Parenting

Amy Chua responded to some questions on her article in the WSJ about Chinese parenting vs. Western parenting. Here was a particularly interesting one.
Your method may work with children with a native high IQ—but demanding that kind of excellence from less intelligent children seems unfair and a fool’s errand. Demanding hard work and a great effort from children is the best middle ground we can reach philosophically, isn’t it? Your thoughts?
Jokes about A+s and gold medals aside (much of my book is tongue-in-cheek, making fun of myself), I don’t believe that grades or achievement is ultimately what Chinese parenting (at least as I practice it) is really about. I think it’s about helping your children be the best they can be—which is usually better than they think! It’s about believing in your child more than anyone else—even more than they believe in themselves. And this principle can be applied to any child, of any level of ability. My youngest sister, Cindy, has Down syndrome, and I remember my mother spending hours and hours with her, teaching her to tie her shoelaces on her own, drilling multiplication tables with Cindy, practicing piano every day with her. No one expected Cindy to get a PhD! But my mom wanted her to be the best she could be, within her limits. Today, my sister works at Wal-Mart, has a boyfriend and still plays piano—one of her favorite things is performing for her friends. She and my mom have a wonderful relationship, and we all love her for who she is.
Hmmm. That's more balanced than Amy appeared at first. I'm still not completely sold, but this gives a better understanding of the foundational principles and I have to say I agree with them.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cat Colorings

I found this chart on Cheezburger to be fascinating.

Click on it for the proper-sized image. It's loaded with good stuff. Check out the info at the bottom of the chart where it tells you how coloring happens in cat embryos.

Illinois Forgets That Competition Is Everywhere

All life is engaged in competition. We compete for mates, for jobs, for prizes and just about everything else. If you're good at something you get more rewards than if you're not. We compete at all levels - as individuals, as teams, as cities, as states and as nations.

Illinois is in deep fiscal trouble. They've spent and promised way more than they can deliver*. They recently decided to solve their problems with massive tax increases. How's that going to work out? Well, here's the governor of Wisconsin reacting to the Illinois tax hike.

Wisconsin is focused on wealth creation while Illinois is focused on wealth distribution. Those who create wealth will want to move to Wisconsin while those who expect it to be distributed to them will move to Illinois.

Illinois is about to find out that wealth creation is more important than they think.

* - This is probably the fault of Sarah Palin and right wing hate speech.

Cheezburger of the Day

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Link of the Day

Left Coast Rebel: Arizona Killer Fits Tea Party Profile Perfectly

A Thought on Political Violence

Barack Obama seems concerned about what the Arizona shootings portend for future political violence. I think he'd find out more about such matters if he sat down and interviewed his Chicago neighbors, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorn. You know, the ones who hosted his first political event. The ones who are unapologetic about blowing things up in the name of politics. That might be more productive than talking to a paranoid schizophrenic.
(T)he available evidence dates Loughner's fixation on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to at least 2007, when he attended a town hall of hers and felt slighted by her response. In 2007, no one had heard of Sarah Palin. Glenn Beck was still toiling on Headline News. There was no Tea Party or health-care reform. The only climate of hate was the pervasive post-Iraq campaign of vilification of George W. Bush, nicely captured by a New Republic editor who had begun an article thus: "I hate President George W. Bush. There, I said it."

Do you suppose the NYT or 60 Minutes has considered interviewing Bill Ayers about the Arizona shootings? Nahhhhhh.

The Fate of the Mentally Ill

Here's something to think about: For every victim of a murderously violent schizoid there are hundreds of mentally ill people who die on the street. You see them every day, begging at street corners. At some point in time, they'll die in their pathetic, little encampments under a bridge or in a thicket down by the river.

At a time when diversity and rights and concern for the environment are spoken of endlessly, it's a testament to the impotence of our society that such poor creatures as these wander about uncared for while we talk and talk and talk about social justice.

Loughner wasn't a homeless beggar, but he was insane. Tim brought up the key conundrum in a comment elsewhere on this blog.
I like to think that all of us who haven't committed any crimes have the right not to be pulled off the street and incarcerated, not just the mentally ill. I seriously hope that she isn't proposing that government officials be given the authority to haul in anybody that they deem to be "insane" and therefore a "danger to the public". That's much too loose of a standard, they'd be able to pick up pretty much anybody that the government found annoying or inconvenient.
All of life being imperfect, there is no answer to this. There are trade offs to everything that we just have to accept. We've chosen to prevent the government from rounding up political dissidents by labeling them as mentally ill in the same way as we have chosen to allow citizens to protect themselves by allowing them to carry weapons. Sometimes the crazies get guns and shoot people. It's going to happen. Life is imperfect.

Meanwhile, congresswomen get the best of care and the mentally ill die under bridges.

For some time I've wanted to collect a gallery of photos of the San Diego homeless to share on this blog, but I just can't bring myself to do it, even from a distance with a telephoto lens. They are, after all, God's children, too, not animals to be filmed on safari. This post will just have to go photoless.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


... or maybe just Koi.

Link of the Day, Arizona Shooting Related

This is worth reading.

Japan Promises To Help Save The Euros!

From Paris to Athens, they're dancing in the streets shouting out, "We're saved!"
Japan plans to buy bonds issued by Europe’s financial-aid funds, its finance minister said, joining China in assisting the region as it battles against a debt crisis that prompted bailouts of Ireland and Greece.

“There is a plan for the euro zone to jointly issue a large amount of bonds late this month to raise funds to assist Ireland,” Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said at a news conference in Tokyo today. “It’s appropriate for Japan to make a contribution as a leading nation to increase trust in the deal. We want to buy more than 20 percent.”
Ah, Japan. The nation with more than 200% of GDP in debt and whose budget this year relies more on borrowing than taxes for its revenue. They're riding to the rescue of Europe and buying bonds. And where will they get the money to buy these bonds? Why, they'll borrow it, of course!

Take that, Euroskeptics!

Borrowing. Is there nothing it can't do?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cheezburger of the Day

On Crises Spreading

I love the use of the word "spreading" to describe the Euro debt crisis.
It is difficult to see how a Portugal bailout can be avoided, however much the government might wish it. Many investors and analysts expect a rescue package, giving it a self-fulfilling character. True, the country may beat its deficit target for 2010 of 7.3% of gross domestic product, but a chunk of the credit for this goes to the one-time transfer to the state of Portugal Telecom's pension fund, worth 1.5% of GDP...Ideally, a Portuguese bailout would be accompanied by measures aimed at preventing the crisis spreading to Spain.
Spreading? What spreading? They're all in debt way over their heads and they just keep borrowing more and more and more. What's to spread? They're insolvent. They didn't get that way overnight and it's not like investors needed to see Ireland and Greece fall apart to figure out that this was a bad thing. They're down another 7.3% this year. If they want this thing to stop "spreading" then they need to run a surplus and pay off some of that debt.

She Is Now In Charge Of All Schizoids

Apparently, some people think the Arizona shooting is the fault of Sarah Palin.

It's like she's a god or something. She can cause just about anything to happen anywhere. Wild.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

On Chinese Parenting

Amy Chua has a very provocative article today in the WSJ posting that Chinese parents are superior to Western parents. To me, there are some good parts...
What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up. But if done properly, the Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence.
... and some not-so-good parts.
A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I've done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:
  • attend a sleepover
  • have a playdate
  • be in a school play
  • complain about not being in a school play
  • watch TV or play computer games
  • choose their own extracurricular activities
  • get any grade less than an A
  • not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • not play the piano or violin
My daughter is just now starting to turn the corner in soccer. When we work out, she understands why she needs to work on a particular part of her game and she works harder and wants to stay at it longer than I do. She's showing the attitude and tenacity she needs to reach her goal which is to play on a high school team. However, she chose soccer, not me. I let her choose her passion, but I'm not letting her be mediocre at it and not letting her quit. I'm particularly happy that she chose something that helps her have a better social life - one where she does something as a group with other girls her own age.

Pushing her to do well in soccer has been difficult enough. I've had to drive home the concept that Amy Chua makes above about success leading to fun, but I tried to do it so she would get to the point where she chose to practice. I can't imagine how hard this task would be if I had forced her into something she didn't want to do or didn't have the talent to do.

Screw this. I'm going to Vegas with my daughter's soccer team to watch them in the Silver State Tournament. Party on!

In the end, I want her to know how to make her own choices, do what she loves, but not accept mediocrity. I'm not sure I can get there with Amy Chua's techniques.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Now That The Preliminaries Are Over

... we can get on to the real big fiscal catastrophes.

Iceland, Greece and Ireland were all pretty bad, but they were small enough to rescue, at least temporarily. Bigger, more problematic ones - Portugal and Spain - are still out there, waiting to fall, but even these aren't the main event. The main event is Japan.

Megan McArdle:
Japan's budget is in a truly terrifying state. Reading about the government's behavior reminds me of the worst accounts of compulsive spenders on the verge of personal bankruptcy--a sort of "What the hell, we're screwed anyway, so let's not think about it and maybe go to Cabo for the weekend." The budget's structural position is what is known technically to economists as "completely hosed"; borrowing now exceeds tax revenue, and debt service costs now eat up almost half of the tax revenue the government collects. "Unsustainable" is too weak to describe the situation; I don't know how they're doing it now.
With new debt issuance seen topping tax revenues for the second straight year in the initial budget, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda reiterated the need to overhaul the country's tax systems -- code for a sales tax hike -- to meet rising welfare costs for the fast-aging population.
The Wall Street Journal:
Rather than fundamental reform to Tokyo's notorious inability to spend wisely, the hallmarks of this budget are the administration's scramble to secure revenue and fulfill unrealistic campaign pledges. Tokyo will raid non-budget accounts and foreign-exchange reserves for $86 billion to fill its revenue shortfall. This kind of budgeting just isn't sustainable.

With local elections scheduled across Japan in the spring, spending is jumping without strategic rationale. Agricultural income subsidies are set to skyrocket more than 40% to $9.5 billion. Rather than creating incentives to make farms bigger and more efficient, Tokyo is just putting this cash into farmers pockets. Child-care subsidies will expand, without consideration of the recipient's income level.
Way back when, across all of the developed world, fiscal conservatives fought against mammoth increases in government social programs claiming they would lead to bankruptcy. They were labeled as heartless and greedy.

What would you call them now?

Point Loma Sunset Evolution

Here's a better version of yesterday's sunset video. This one retains the wave motion at their original speed, but still gives you a feeling for the change in the sky over time. Leaving the segments at their original speed also allows you to leave the sounds of the waves in the video. The video is available on YouTube in 720p, so if you can handle the download, a fullscreen version might be worth it.


Friday, January 07, 2011

Cheezburger of the Day

Frantic Sunset

I got some great photos and video of an awesome sunset from the cliffs overlooking the Point Loma tidepools. I tried speeding it up the way I used to do sunset videos, but the result was quite frantic because of the waves in the foreground. You still get the dramatic evolution of the sunset against the clouds, but the timescale of the motion of the waves doesn't match the timescale of the sunset. I've got a different way of doing the same thing that solves this problem that I'll post tomorrow.

Why We Simply Must Get Rid Of All Incandescent Bulbs

Because the only solution to Global Warming
Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Half a foot (15 centimeters) of snow may fall over the New York region starting today, the second winter storm in two weeks in an area recovering from a post- Christmas blizzard.
is quick and decisive action.
Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Rare earth metals are key to global efforts to switch to cleaner energy -- from batteries in hybrid cars to magnets in wind turbines. Mining and processing the metals causes environmental damage that China, the biggest producer, is no longer willing to bear.

China’s rare earth industry each year produces more than five times the amount of waste gas, including deadly fluorine and sulfur dioxide, than the total flared annually by all miners and oil refiners in the U.S. Alongside that 13 billion cubic meters of gas is 25 million tons of wastewater laced with cancer-causing heavy metals such as cadmium, Xu Xu, chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals & Chemicals Importers & Exporters, said at a Beijing conference on Dec. 28.

You should immediately drive your Prius over to the local coop to buy compact flourescent bulbs. It's your duty to the planet.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

How to Record Video in a Tidepool

Here are some lessons learned from my recent tidepool filming efforts.
  1. Suspended sediment is your enemy. Tiny particles in the water act like fog, turning the movie into a hazy mess as they reflect sunlight from above. The first day I shot was right after a rainstorm and the tidepool was quite cloudy from runoff. The result was a wasted hour.

  2. Canyons are your friend. The PlaySport has a minimum focal length of 39.6", so you need a bit of distance between the camera and your target. A water-filled crevasse in the rocks is perfect, so long as the end you're pointing at is in sunlight.

  3. I shot entirely through as much sunlit water as I could and in retrospect that was probably a mistake. If there is no sunlight, the suspended particles have nothing to reflect and so they don't produce foggy, ambient light. Since the first 39" can't be made out anyway, you might as well shoot through 39" of shadow, so long as the scene you want to film is at least that distance away, is bathed in sunlight and you have a clear line-of-sight to it.

  4. Deep tidepools, the kind large enough to submerge the camera and give you 40+" of shooting distance, are not loaded with animals. For example, the hermit crabs are all hanging out in the shallow pools. That means that if you want to capture some critters on film, you need plenty of patience. The video below shows the last few seconds of film where a tiny fish popped into the scene (lower right-hand corner) just as I was pulling the camera out. I ended up missing the only real drama in the scene because I didn't wait long enough.

  5. You need two establishing shots to set the scene. First, you need a long-distance shot of the tidepools in general. Next, you need another above-the-water shot showing the layout of the tidepool you're filming. After that you can submerge the camera and get to work.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Video of the Day

I just thought this was cool ...

When Do We Reassess The Past?

The Democratic governor of a deep blue state is confronting reality, just like Jerry Brown is in California.
Andrew Cuomo, the newly elected governor of New York, seems determined to build a career as a budget hawk. His campaign platform included admirably detailed promises on how to end the state’s budget imbalance, including a pledge to not raise taxes. Even before he was sworn in, the governor-elect was sending a blunt message to the state legislature. This is “about numbers,” Cuomo said. “There’s no Democratic or Republican philosophical dispute here. The numbers have to balance, and the numbers now don’t balance … It’s painful, but it is also undeniable.”
Now that it's become obvious that the progressive agenda of massive government spending, entitlements, benefits, regulations and wealth redistribution has failed, when do we reexamine the arguments of the past and put a stake through the heart of this particular vampire?

40 years and $14T of FAIL and that's just at the Federal level.

Whatever the goals of the Great Society and its ideological brethren were, a static poverty rate wasn't one of them. So when do we go back and review the rhetoric and logical arguments made by Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer and all the rest and conclude that they were wrong? Not just mistaken, but flat-out, mathematically wrong. For 40 years we've fought poverty with government spending and it's now clear that strategy was totally wrong. That needs to be stated clearly, openly and loudly.

Is anyone out there saying that? I can't think of any pundit or politician who has made that his or her central theme.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Cheezburger of the Day

Big Anenome

Another tidbit from my Point Loma tidepool filming expedition. I still need to blog my lessons learned from this trip, but that will have to wait. The Catican is cold this morning and I need to get going off to do other things. In the meantime, enjoy a little anenome action! There's an HD version, so if you can handle the download, you can watch it in 720p.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Jerry Brown Confronts Reality

... and does it with his typical candor.
The new governor’s budget will be introduced after former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger grappled with shortfalls that totaled $100 billion combined since June 2008. During that time, the state cut spending more than $45 billion and raised taxes by $12.5 billion. Another $36 billion of one-time or temporary solutions pushed some of the deficit into future years.

Brown is likely to propose even more cuts and call for a special election to ask voters for money, said Jaime Regalado, executive director of the Edmund G. Brown Institute of Public Affairs -- named for Jerry Brown’s father, himself a former governor -- at California State University, Los Angeles. Options include extending temporary tax increases on income, retail sales and vehicle registrations put in place in 2009. They are set to expire this year.

The reductions may include eliminating local redevelopment agencies, shrinking social-services benefits, slashing aid to state universities and closing parks, the Sacramento Bee reported today, citing a source close to Brown’s budget proposal.
Good on ya, Jerry. Just as only Nixon could go to China, perhaps only a Jerry Brown could slash spending.

From "Unsustainable" to "Unsustained"

Illinois is going over the cliff.
Jan. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Illinois lawmakers will try this week to accomplish in a few days what they have been unable to do in the past two years -- resolve the state’s worst financial crisis.

The legislative session that begins today will take aim at a budget deficit of at least $13 billion, including a backlog of more than $6 billion in unpaid bills and almost $4 billion in missed payments to underfunded state pensions.
The jig is up, but they're deluding themselves just a little bit longer.
Lawmakers meeting in Springfield will consider spending cuts, an expansion of casino gambling and a proposal from Democratic Governor Pat Quinn to borrow $15 billion to pay overdue bills and help fill the budget hole.
It's like watching an alcoholic hit bottom. The solution is gambling and borrowing? Good luck with that, boys.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Link of the Day

Troy Senik, writing at Ricochet, has a great post on presidential speeches. Here's a tidbit from something worth reading in full.
Have Something Interesting to Say -- This may sound extraordinarily basic, but it's a principle violated by most professional politicians on a regular basis. Part of the torpor of modern presidential speeches is that they mostly sound as if they're run off an assembly line. The same points are made in the same language, ad nauseam. And because the process of crafting a presidential speech combines the natural risk aversion of a White House communications operation with vetting by the bureaucracy, the language often ends up about as inspired as a workplace training video.

Trying Out Dropbox

Now that was sold off to Facebook and then closed, I'm in need of a place to store files and shuttle them from one computer to another. Dropbox looks like an excellent replacement, more capable than

The Spoilt Child Around 2:00 Is My Favorite

Click here. Watch.

(The slide around 4:25 is great, too.)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Tidepool Forest

Here's my first relatively decent footage from the local tidepools using my new Kodak PlaySport. I love the PlaySport - it's everything I'd hoped it would be. I've got some lessons learned from this exercise that I'll blog later. For now, here's the video. Try it in HD mode, perhaps even full screen. I love the veil of bubbles that comes up about a third of the way through. I'm anxious to hear what you've got to say after you watch it. There aren't any critters in the thing, so don't be disappointed that it's all flora and no fauna.

Something To Be Thankful For

2010 was a great year in the Catican, but we don't always show it. Here in our spacious editorial offices, the staff of The Scratching Post scours the Interweb Tubes each morning for odds and ends to comment on and synthesize into larger points. Too often, the stories are negative and commentary filled with scowling. How does that work? Life is beautiful and we're happy, but the blog is scowly. That can't be good. So let's see if we can find something fun to be thankful for. Hmmm. How about a little Bing from Road to Morocco?

And just who do we have to thank? Why, lots of people! Google for YouTube, Cisco for the Interweb delivery system, HP for the laptop where I'm watching it, Microsoft for the OS and browser, Paramount Pictures for the movie ... (Feel free to add to the list if you'd like.)

That's a whole lot of folks working to make sure we could enjoy a little of Der Bingle crooning. That's pretty cool.