Friday, August 31, 2012

The Problem With Crazy People

... is that they're crazy.

Speaking from prolonged, close, personal experience, it's almost impossible to get inside the mind of a lunatic and figure out how they see the world. You can do it for brief moments, but it's incredibly difficult to maintain for any length of time. The problem with crazy people is that since they don't think like you do, I mean structurally think like you do as in your internal logical flow charts are practically useless, you can't figure out their motivations.

During the Republican National Convention, we had Code Pink dressing up like giant vaginas to protest the GOP's War On Women and members of the news media finding racism in everything.

These are crazy people, plain and simple.

I spent some time trying to get inside this kind of mind, figuring I could get a decent blog post out of it.

In a candid moment, the ABC News Yahoo Bureau Chief says, "They are happy to have a party with black people drowning" and all his cronies laugh.

Here were some of my thoughts. They firmly believe Republicans are racists because ...
  • they need to dismiss logical financial and fiscal arguments,
  • they want to maintain their fantasy world of government spending and power,
  • all of their hip friends think this way and they don't want to be seen as a square,
  • it's a lot of childish, frat-house fun to laugh at the racists or
  • they live in a fantasy world where it is still 1964 because they wish with all their hearts they could have been in the civil rights marches (my personal favorite).
In the end, I gave up on this. It's fruitless to try and live inside the world of the lunatic. I would argue that the proper response to the race-obsessed, reactionary left is to simply ask, "What's wrong with you?" The whole foundation of their race argument is wrong and it's immediately self-evident. There's no reason to grant them any merit in their position at all. We're happy that black people are drowning?!? What kind of sick mind comes up with that? And if you think it was isolated thought, watch the video again and listen to all the laughter. It's like some self-reinforcing bubble of delusional thought and there's no reason to react to it with anything other than scorn and mockery.

Dittos for the giant vaginas. Like Left Coast Rebel, I thought Clint Eastwood's speech at the RNC was a bomb, but it couldn't compare with Code Pink. Running around in giant vagina costumes? Are you just completely out of your mind? What kind of lunatic comes up with this? Elsewhere, fellow SLOB Dawn Wildman participated on an NYT panel discussing the War on Women. I couldn't watch it. I didn't even get started. Why not just go to downtown San Diego and hang out with the drug addicts and alcoholics? I'm glad Dawn participated in this, but I couldn't watch. You've got more patience than I do, Dawn.

So who cares why they think this way? Who cares what wild, statistical outliers they've got proving that conservatives / libertarians / Tea Party members are racists and waging a war on women? It's deliberate, self-indulgent madness and needs to be treated as such.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

How Many Songs Can You Get Through?

Once in a while, I put on the headphones at work and try to listen to music as I toil away for The Man*. I'm lucky to get through 2-3 without interruption. It's usually 1 plus a bit of one more before the phone rings, someone asks a question, or something similar. How about you?

I didn't make it all the way through AC/DC's Who Made Who today.

* - Or The Woman as the case may be.

A Tiny Note On The Paul Ryan Speech

Note: I slept in this morning, so I didn't have time to write more than this little tidbit. Mea culpa!

I didn't see the speech live, I watched part of it from B-Daddy's site this morning. I really liked what I saw. It was more than green eyeshade wonkery, it articulated the case for freedom. Great stuff, that. It was the kind of thing I personally was hoping for - fighting for personal freedom as the path to growth and prosperity for all who will do what it takes to win it.

My enthusiasm for the Paul Ryan pick is higher now than it was at the beginning and that's saying quite a bit.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Take On The Republican National Convention

I didn't watch it. Don't think I'm going to.

Last night, I picked my daughter up from soccer practice around 8 and came home to have dinner with the family. We nommed burgers grilled to perfection by the other members of the Catican staff and watched Pawn Stars. I'd been following the convention on Twitter and had seen people raving about Chris Christie and Ann Romney. After everyone had dispersed from the family room, I wandered out to the Catican, fired up the old PC and took a look at the videos on C-Span.

After about 3 minutes, I gave up and wandered back inside. I'd heard all the good lines retweeted over and over again, but when you watched in 1-1 time, it wasn't that interesting. I've seen plenty of these conventions and they don't grab me any more. It's not that I'm cynical or don't trust them or get angry, they're just not interesting any more.

I guess I'm waiting for the highlight reel.

Kind of like this.
Elsewhere, B-Daddy and WC Varones have serious opinions.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Simply Beautiful

I'll admit it. This brought tears to my eyes.

If These Things Were A Foot Long, Our Kids Would Want Them As Pets

... after all, they're fuzzy, cute and harmless.

Oatmeal For Insomnia

So last night I woke up at 2 AM. I lay awake until about 3 before deciding to take action. I had no reason to be awake as my life is pretty tranquil right now*. A friend of mine had recommended a small bowl of oatmeal as a cure for insomnia. She's big on a healthy diet and the value of maintaining your blood sugar. Every time I've tried this it's worked, too.

So I popped into the kitchen, heated a bit of water in the microwave and brewed up a little mug of Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Apples and Cinnamon Flavor.

ZONK. Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.


* - Thanks, in part, to a daughter who is showing a great deal of maturity, if not always the best judgment.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Just The Sort Of Thing To Serve Your Veuve Clicquot

Buy yours here.

A Monday Palate Cleanser

... which you will need because I'm about to ruin your appetite.

Surfing the Interweb Tubes this morning, I came across this bit from InstaGlenn which reminded me of this other bit from InstaGlenn. Now I need a shower. Or maybe just some Nat King Cole.

Aside: Yes, Barkha, to the progressives, that is all you are.

Mea culpa: I wasn't sure whether or not to post this, but despite it's crudity and coarseness, it goes to the heart of the culture wars. It's certainly not the last word in the matter as I'm sure we have plenty more depths to plumb, but both of those topics linked above plainly exhibit how some on the left have a crazed fascination with sex to the neglect of all else.

Parting thought: Does anyone else get the feeling that Japanese sex robots have more suavity than the readers of Naomi Wolf and the HuffPo?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Building Dungeons In The Sky

Update: I almost forgot to give Mut the hat tip for the anti-Mormon link below!

"Building castles in the sky" is a saying referring to dreams without practical foundations. Kathleen Geier grabs the loopy rape quote from Todd Akin and builds dungeons in the sky. Her essay is so poorly constructed that it's not worth grabbing a quote here. You can read it for yourself if you want. In essence, she claims that Republicans have become a fringe party captured by crazed wingnuts with little more than Akin as a foundation.

Meanwhile, the Federal budget and the Federal Register have grown monotonically over the last several decades. That crude measure of the size and scope of government completely obliterates her thesis that Democrats are doing little more than stemming the tide of reactionary lunacy. It doesn't take much effort and no vitriol* to knock that particular fantasy down.

Dittos for the story of a right-wing blogger who decided to turn the tables on an anti-Mormon bigot who was trying to organized a Mormoniphobic whisper campaign using some social networking tools on an Obama campaign website. The blogger published the contact information of the bigot and has now been threatened with a lawsuit.

Whether or not the act is righteous, it frightens people to see their contact info posted by a political opponent. Here on this blog, I had a troll who used to leave my real name in the comments. That freaked me out completely. Whether or not the bigot was in the wrong, publishing names and addresses is just a bad idea and does nothing to further the cause.

It doesn't matter if it's the anti-religious bigots, the LGBT paranoids or the hypersensitive Kathleen Geier, there's a simple response to their attacks. Education. It doesn't require publishing addresses.

Teacher: "You suck, Mary. Kids, here's Mary's home address so you can all visit her and tell her how much she sucks." (Image source)
* - As usual, I gave in to my baser instincts and left a comment suggesting she seek professional help. Sigh.

Does This Invalidate Sandra Fluke?

She wants us to pay for her Pills. Instead, we might have to spring for her coffin.
I just got out of a telebriefing with the CDC. The atmosphere was not a jovial one. The words "gonorrhea epidemic" were thrown around in ominous tones. No one was up for hanging out after.

Did you know gonorrhea can kill you? It can, and it's also tragically effective at making women infertile. According to her journals, my great aunt Mabel was "barren," and my grandmother always told me it was probably from gonorrhea. The only reason we don't hear about these awful complications more often -- and we instead think of it as a little oops of an infection ("Can I still drink on these antibiotics?" "Yes." "Cool.") -- is because we've been able to kill it early with relative ease.

But over the past decades, gonorrhea has been mowing down our antibiotics. If this was the Olympic 400 IM, gonorrhea would be the Ryan Lochte and our antibiotics would be the guy from Moldova.

The list of effective antibiotics has been dwindling as the bacteria became resistant, and now it's down to one.
The Pill is ineffective in stopping gonorrhea, but it does wonders for encouraging promiscuity.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Arachnid Ambassador

As the Catican Compound is the seat of the Feline Theocracy, we get this kind of thing quite a bit - creatures making a pilgrimage to seek the counsel of our Maximum Leader. In this case, a charming green and yellow spider stopped by. They met privately for a while and I'm here to tell you, the little spider positively sparkled after their consultation. I suspect there was some amount of confession involved, but her private sessions are held in the strictest confidence, so I didn't even bother to ask.

I did, however, take some photos with the spider's permission. I left the originals fairly large, so they might be worth a click or two. Enjoy.

A little noodling around the web identified this little fellow as a Green Lynx Spider. We've posted a photo of one of these before.

Something Thoroughly Surreal

... lies at the heart of the Euro crisis, our own crazed borrowing and spending and Japan's positively staggering level of debt.

Money is just a symbol. It's a proxy for actual wealth. Getting more of it is the result of producing value. If you're running out of it, then you're not producing enough. Printing money, making money cheaper through low interest rates, spending money in stimulus porkgasms, it's all just a fantasy if you don't produce value.

Europe is running out of people and doesn't create enough to sustain its spending model. That's all this crisis is. It's not about the "end of the Euro" or "fiscal union" or whether or not Angela Merkel got up on the wrong side of the bed and wants to kick the Greeks while they're down.

Every morning, I read the Wall Street Journal, Real Clear Markets, Der Spiegel and other such sites. There's a constant drumbeat about money as if it really was something. When you realize that money is just a proxy for real things, the articles and blog posts come across as a colossal overthinking of the problem, which is this:

If you don't produce something others want, you can't have what you want.

On the plus side, we can always cruise the ocean on a ship with butterfly sails.

Friday, August 24, 2012

You Tea Partiers Are Just Wankers Whipping Up Fears

A friend posted this link on Facebook to Michael D. Higgins financially illiterate rant against the Tea Party. The comments on the Facebook link were all supportive and full of name-calling against the likes of Mut, WC Varones, B-Daddy and Dean. There was no indication of any comprehension of Ireland's fiscal situation - that the government had nationalized the Irish banks and assumed their gargantuan debts following the financial meltdown.

Listening to an Irish politician rant against the Tea Party when Irish politicians chained the entire country to what amounts to oars in a slave galley is pretty near the heights of irony. Following that up with comments by a bunch of people who probably don't make enough money to be paying their fair share of taxes puts it over the top.

Since it's on Facebook, I'm not big on replying. I don't like getting into politics over there, but I'm wondering if I should offer to introduce them to some of the Tea Party folks mentioned above. Then they could engage in a constructive, knowledgeable conversation with real, live humans and do more than just hurl epithets at straw men.

Here we see Tea Party type DDE whipping up fear. Or maybe meringue. Or maybe it's fearfully good meringue. Or meringue you should be afraid of. It all confuses me, to tell you the truth. After listening to Mike Higgins rail about the need to spend, spend, spend it's clear I'm not the only confused person out there.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cheezburger of the Day

funny cat pictures - Mitzi loved to hog the spotlight.
see more

A Little More Goals Blogging

A few years back, I stumbled across Brian Tracy's book, Goals. I've blogged about it quite a bit in the past and this morning, driven by some unhappiness and frustration, I got up early and refreshed my answers to the sequence of questions posed by that book. In doing so, the solutions to my two biggest current issues jumped out at me.

At work, my team has been frustrated by decisions made out of ignorance by our leadership. The frustration I knew about and the roadblocks posed by the decisions were familiar. What wasn't clear was the source of those roadblocks. By going through the process all over again, it became obvious that the decisions were being made out of technical and market illiteracy on the part of our upper management. Up to now, I've been fighting what I thought was a marketing and political problem. Recasting the problem as one of ignorance will change my approach and hopefully bring better results.

As a parent, my progress this summer with my daughter has been fitful. She's improved in some things, but still simply will not take ownership of her life. In her mind, things just happen to her; her failures are not a product of her own actions. Meanwhile, I continue to dig her out of all the messes she creates, expecting practically nothing from her. She's just a few short years away from living on her own, either with a job or at college. If she leaves the nest with her current mindset, she's doomed to a life of failure and sadness. I knew what the problem was, but until I went through the goals process again, my motivation for demanding ownership and performance from her wasn't completely clear. It's seductive to be an easy parent when you don't confront the consequences of being permissive and enabling.

If you haven't taken a look at Brian Tracy's book, I recommend it. I've been going back to it for years and each time it adjusts my thinking and behaviors. I know it's working, too, because each time I do these reviews, I delete sections of my write up because I've achieved some of the goals I've laid out.

You can't ask for much more than that.
Our Maximum Leader provided intense guidance through the whole process.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Did I Go Too Far?

Frequent commenter Mostly Nothing emailed a bunch of friends yesterday, telling us he had a horrible 70s song stuck in his head and he needed help getting it out. After being told that Herman's Hermits' I'm Henry VIII wouldn't do the trick, I went straight to Leslie Gore.

I'm not up on my War Crimes statutes, so I'm not sure if I broke any international laws, but even if I didn't, I'm wondering if this was a bit much.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cosmo: Built By A Prude

Well this puts a whole new light on things. Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown was a cynical, predatory piece of trash.
Clearly, the Gurley Brown sex recipe has failed: for so many it has resulted in no man of your own, no marriage, and in all likelihood very little fun.
The great irony in all this is that Helen Gurley Brown herself married—though, at 37, late for her era—and stayed married to the same man, movie producer David Brown, until he died in 2010. In fact if you look at her personal life—and ignore some of the bragging about past affairs—there’s a whole different recipe for success there for the modern girl. 
As Slate editor David Plotz wrote 12 years ago when reviewing Ms Gurley Brown’s memoir, I’m Wild Again
But on closer inspection, I’m Wild Again is a strangely inapt title and a poor description of Brown’s life. She’s not wild again (and she may never have been very wild in the first place). This is the autobiography of a puritan. Wild chronicles how Brown exercises obsessively; doesn’t drink, smoke, or eat; has remained utterly faithful to her husband of 35 years; and lives for her job. The Cosmo girl’s dirty little secret isn’t sex. It’s work. 
Although she encouraged cavorting with married men, Plotz points out, she was too busy to do it herself. She worked 12-hour days on the magazine and lived her gospel of self-improvement to a puritanical degree.
Just like the repulsive toads in Crosby, Stills and Nash, Helen Gurley Brown willingly peddled absolute poison to a gullible public. Great job, Helen.

Maybe Helen didn't want any competition.

Rednecks Are So Stupid That They Give Their Money Away

... and I'm sure there's a racism angle here as well.
The eight states whose residents gave the highest share of their income — Utah, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Idaho, Arkansas and Georgia — all backed McCain in 2008. Utah leads charitable giving, with 10.6 percent of income given.
Stupid rednecks.

Fighting Speculators With Atomic Bombs

Well, now they've done it. Those dastardly speculators have driven the price of Spanish and Italian bonds up too high and the ECB has decided to retaliate with its unlimited powers.
As part of its efforts to fight the euro crisis, the European Central Bank (ECB) is considering establishing caps on interest rates for government bonds in individual countries as part of its future bond-buying program. Under the plan, the ECB would begin purchasing government bonds from crisis-hit countries if yields for those bonds exceeded the interest rates for benchmark German sovereign bonds by a predetermined amount. This would signal to investors which interest rate levels the ECB believes to be appropriate.

Given that it can print money itself, the central bank has access to unlimited funds, which could make it extremely difficult for speculators to continue driving yields up beyond the amount stipulated by the ECB.
Got that? If "speculators" decide that there is no way on God's green Earth that profligate, socialist fiscal basket cases like Spain and Italy will ever pay their bills and they want to cash out at any price, the ECB will step in, print Euros like there's no tomorrow and buy them up.

The Spaniards think this is a grand idea.
Calls for such action are growing. In an interview with state-owned news agency EFE, Spanish Economics Minister Luis de Guindos called for the ECB to purchase unlimited amounts of Spanish sovereign bonds on the capital markets.
Unlimited. Now that's decisive action!

The best part is that it works!

Update: The Spanish newspaper El Pais is reporting that the ECB has denied that they have decided to embark on this plan. The Bundesbank is also opposed to it.
In response, the ECB quashed speculation as to how it plans to act. “It is absolutely misleading to report on decisions that have not yet been taken and also on individual views, which have not yet been discussed by the ECB’s Governing Council, which will act strictly within its mandate,” Bloomberg quoted an ECB spokesman as saying. “As far as recent statements by government officials are concerned, it is also wrong to speculate on the shape of future ECB interventions,” the statement said.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Motion Of The Ship Is One Thing

... thinking about how they filmed it is another.

"The Help" And "Avatar"

... feature villains that might as well have come from Barney Oldfield's Race For A Life. Dittos for most of the other movies I've seen lately.

Here, the white, Southern Christian is kidnapping the innocent, lesbian social worker or the rapacious, profit-crazed developer is grabbing the eco-researcher from the local university. I can't tell which. They're all pretty much the same.

What is most interesting to me is how unbelievably outdated the movies' attitudes are. 40-50 years ago, some movies represented avant-garde thought. Now they're as reactionary as can be. 670 million people in India suffer a multi-day blackout and we get James Cameron going for Avatar 2. The south side of Chicago is descending into Mogadishu and we get The Help and other civil rights nostalgia pieces.

They might as well go back to making silent movies.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Women Are Naturally Flighty And Illogical

... and that's why my wife prefers Pawn Stars over American Pickers when the latter is clearly the superior show. Pawn Stars is great and all, but it just doesn't have the intellectual heft of American Pickers.

I love my wife dearly, but sometimes she just doesn't have a thought in her pretty, little head.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Is Paul Ryan's Budget Unchristian?

... was the question  posed and answered mostly in the affirmative by Time blogger Erika Christakis and then repeated on her blog. The gist of her argument is that rich people need to pay more in taxes. No argument was made about helping the poor outside of the blanket assumption that taxes went to the government which then shipped the money out as aid to the "less fortunate."
My view is that a tax structure that punishes the working poor is immoral. And I also think there is a lot of disingenuous obfuscation about what counts as government assistance. For example: there are a couple very different ways to look at Food Stamps. Some believe they are a hand-out to people who may or may not ‘deserve’ it. On the other hand, Food Stamps can also be viewed as a business subsidy to companies, allowing them to keep wages low, since many recipients of Food Stamps (nearly 50 percent) are full-time employees who can’t feed their families on their meager salaries.
Erika confuses tax policy and government revenue generation in general with aid to the poor. They're not the same. As I've ranted here over and over again, the problem isn't taxes or government spending, it's the culture. I went off a bit on Erika in her comments as well.
So here’s the biggest problem with your article: It doesn’t have any point outside of politics. That is, it doesn’t address any social ills because the government isn’t addressing the primary source of social ills.

The breakdown of the traditional family is the #1 source of social pathologies in the US. Nothing else is close. The data to back this up is enormous and statistically uncontestable. The government can spend half as much or twice as much and it makes no practical difference.

The Christian injunction to help the poor has at it’s heart actual help. Spending more money doesn’t count if it doesn’t help. Spending more to no effect is the functional description of the vain snobs who made a big show of contributing money to the temple in the biblical stories.

Tax the rich more, tax the rich less, do whatever you want, but don’t dress it up as a Christian act because it’s not since it doesn’t address the root causes of the majority of our problems.
There's one more problem with Erika's thesis. Her argument that taxes "punish" the working poor contradicts the story of the Widow's Mite. If the government is indeed a proxy for God and paying taxes an offering to Him, then it's thoroughly Christian to have everyone pay.

Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
If taxes are some kind of path to salvation, then it behooves us to make sure everyone pays, not just half of us.

And herein lies the problem of conflating government and God. Lightworker though he is, Barack Hussein Obama and the federal bureaucracy are not stand-ins for Jesus. The analogies fall apart almost instantly and even if they held up under mild scrutiny, the result would be lethal to freedom. Government as God's intermediary? Talk about no limits to power!

I would argue that Jesus knew all of this and that's why salvation is personal, not collective. Tax policy simply is. It is neither Christian or un-Christian. It's just the way we pay the salaries of the folks who happen to work for the government. The sooner we stop claiming that government is some kind of morally superior organization, the better off we'll all be.

Update: So I just noticed something else. Dig this quote. "Food Stamps can also be viewed as a business subsidy to companies, allowing them to keep wages low." This is ignorant Marxist nonsense. Your employer doesn't pay you because he wants you to live a good life, he pays you because you produce value. If you lack sufficient skills to earn a living wage, it's not the employer's responsibility to pay you more than you're worth.

For Those Times When You're Just Too Busy To Properly Express Your Road Rage

Friday, August 17, 2012

Drivers Unclear On The Concept, Silver Medal Finalist

Evolve with a peace sign for the "o"? Living things that practice nonviolence don't evolve, they get eaten.

The lettuce is nonviolent. The snail is higher on the food chain and development scale.

I Can Tell Because It Lets Me Live

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Roger Corman, Please Call Your Office!

So here I was, flying along minding my own business, when suddenly this MONSTER comes out of NOWHERE, and SUCKS ME UP! I run into this huge, wet fleshy thing, and I GRAB it, and hang on! I thought I was DONE for!

He Was Going To Shoot Them Because They Were Full Of Hate

So Floyd Corkins walked into the Family Research Center offices planning to shoot him some hate-filled homophobes. He carried with him a Chick-fil-A bag, the product of other hate-filled homophobes. He had the motives and almost all of the props one would expect of someone who had been immersed in the left's echo-chamber of ignorant bigotry. He seemed to be missing a US flag pin and Bible, though they may have been found on him and not mentioned in the stories. After all, we all know that when fascism comes to the US, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a Bible. Oh well. You can't expect him to get it all right.

When I first heard about the story, I thought of the guy I had snarked on Twitter, the one who was convinced he was some kind of caped crusader defending gays from crazed Christians. He lived in a fantasy world, completely ignorant of what his political opponents thought or felt. He just knew we were all full of hate and nothing would convince him otherwise. It's not surprising that one of his intellectual brethren would buy a gun and go homophobe hunting. Given the population of that particular echo chamber, it was just a matter of time before someone on the fringe decided to take the fight to the enemy like that.

Since the problem is ignorance, it seems like the solution is not to curse the darkness of their bigotry*, but to light a candle. Let me see if I can light a tiny one here.

Why I'm in favor of traditional marriage
  1. The breakdown of the traditional family is the top source of social pathologies in the US. Nothing else is even close. 
  2. People are not rational, they are rationalizing. That is, education does not prevent bad decisions that promise short-term pleasure. 
  3. Social opprobrium provides a working deterrent to destructive behavior. Johnny and Suzy are less likely to create an illegitimate baby if "that sort of thing just isn't done." 
  4. While providing marriage for gays might be beneficial to the gays, it is destructive to the rest of us as it acts as one more bit of moral equivalence. Making the traditional family, which is the key building block for civilization, no better than any other relationship enables the rationalization of bad decisions.
  5. In short, if you want less poverty, smaller prison populations, less drug use and more education, you need to place the traditional, married family far above all other sexual relationships.
See? There's no need to yell. Lighting candles can be fun!
* - Cursing and yelling are sooo cathartic, though!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Oh Please. This Is Just Too Easy

Let's see here. There's an escape from a prison in Germany that involves tunneling, jumping and two fences. Sounds to me like someone fantasizes about being Steve McQueen.
Aided by a fox and a wild boar, three kangaroos got through two fences and hopped to freedom from a wildlife park in Germany. They traveled 15 kilometers before a police posse closed in on them. 
The Rheinböllen Wildlife Park in western Germany isn't exactly Alcatraz, but getting out isn't easy either. The word around the troughs at mealtimes is that you need to get through two fences to reach the freedom of the surrounding forest. 
Three kangaroos made it at the weekend with the help of a young fox and a wild boar that were trying to break in, an official said on Tuesday. 
The boar made a hole in the fence surrounding the park and the fox dug its way under another fence into an enclosure where the kangaroos were kept. 
The marsupials, whose names are Jack, Mick and Skippy, didn't hang around. They hopped off into the night and managed to get 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the park when a passerby spotted them. The last one was caught late on Monday.
Jack, Mick and Skippy need to stop watching so much TV, if you ask me.

Tiny Lavender

This is one of my favorites. I love the delicacy of the tiny flowers against the dark backdrop created by the camera's shallow field of view in macro mode. I left the original fairly large, so the image is worth a click.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Something For Tim

Looks like an opportunity.

Objective:  To develop a system that has high-throughput capability for extracting nucleic acids from arthropods, to include ticks, mosquitoes, and sand flies. The system must then be able to deposit purified nucleic acids into multiple type of receiver (i.e., tubes or plates) for future diagnostic testing systems.

I'd be careful, though. If there was one thing we learned from Roger Corman films, it's that there were some things Man was not meant to know. Those things usually involved giant arthropods and screaming blondes.

See what I mean?

Smoking A Chicken Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

... but mostly, it's filled to the brim with smoky deliciousness!

Using our friends' offset smoker, we followed the recipe found here as described by Kentucky Hunting Forum member trust me. We butterflied the chicken and smoked it for three hours using hickory chips for the smoke. For the last hour and a half we basted it with the oil, lard, salt and pepper mix. I used a pork rub on half the chicken and left the other half alone. It proved irrelevant for reasons I'll explain later.

I wasn't sure about the sauce ingredient measurements, so I slopped about a third of a cup of lard in a stainless steel bowl, the same amount of vegetable oil and then about a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. As you can see from the photos, I stuck the bowl in the smoker, too and the heat melted the lard. It also kept the bowl handy, so all I had to do to baste was open the lid and slather the bird with the sauce. No need to touch the bowl at all. Since the smoker didn't get above 220, the basting sauce never boiled away or burned.

The end result was glorious. Moist and delicious through and through. For the most part, the skin was too leathery to eat, making the rub a waste of time. The basting sauce did make it's way into the flavor and the smell and taste of the lard added a distinctive richness to the meat without making it greasy at all. The whole affair was definitely worthy of a repeat performance.


Monday, August 13, 2012

The John Galt Election

So in the middle of a balance sheet crisis,  Romney went off and chose a courageous budget wonk for his running mate. Thank God. If he'd chosen someone like Tim Pawlenty, I might not have voted from sheer boredom. In choosing Paul Ryan, he's created an interesting test for all of us.

What can productive people expect from their fellow citizens?

France had that same test and they responded by electing the socialist Francois Hollande who campaigned on looting the rich. The rich responded by moving their wealth offshore and why not? Their fellow citizens had emptied the treasury, debased French bonds and were lusting after the fruits of their labors. Only an idiot wouldn't take steps to protect their wealth.

So that leads back to the US election. As an individual, I will strongly support Romney/Ryan, but at the same time I'll start thinking about my future plans should Obama/Biden win. This blog has spent the last several years chronicling just what happens to countries and people that don't practice self-control. Our potential future is no mystery at all. As it is, I've been spending a lot of my free time developing new, marketable skills just in case I lose my job. If Obama is reelected, I'll be doing more than that and I won't be alone.

Spain, this year. The Spanish are a literate, civilized, cultured, Western people and they've driven their nation into total bankruptcy. This is what it looks like when a nation goes bankrupt.

Ignoring the politics for a bit, think of what the rest of the country is telling productive Christians if they elect Obama. You're going to be our pack mules, guys. We have no intention of paying off our debts. Stockton and San Bernardino are just the beginning. Our bond ratings are heading down and the only way we'll be able to service our loans is by printing trillions. Religious freedom protections are going to be stripped away until you're a big, fat target for every atheist or gay crackpot with a lawyer. In short, we're going to get what we want and you're going to pay for it.

Amidst all of this hate and envy, there's one question they're not asking themselves.

Who is John Galt?

Sky Lavender

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I Love The Year 2012

Last night, my wife and I were playing about in bed when she started singing the "hands across the water" lines from Paul McCartney's Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. We couldn't remember the song, so I grabbed my Droid 2, opened the YouTube app, found it and in no time at all we were singing along.

Life is good.


Saturday, August 11, 2012


Paul Ryan!

What a fantastic VP pick by Mitt Romney. Ryan was my #1 choice by miles. With the Ryan pick, Romney is forcing the debate on our out-of-control spending and total capitulation on the budget process. While Barack Obama is running ads accusing Mitt Romney of killing women with cancer, Mitt is picking a guy with the courage to take on our totally unsustainable entitlement spending.

Today's a great day in America.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Another Reason For Optimism

A while back I linked to a video showing 300 black teenagers storming a Walmart in a flash mob robbery. It looks like it's been taken down, but here it is with a voice-over commentary. That commentary and the video below is why we can be optimistic about the future. (MAJOR LANGUAGE WARNING.)

ELawShea, the fellow in the video, gets it. That Walmart video has affected him deeply to the point that he's questioning the arc of civilization. At 3:00, it shows that he's starting to wrap his mind around this curve and its implications:

The x axis is time and the y axis is ELawShea's metric, disrespectfulness.
Way, way back when, I linked to this article on civilization's decay in Oakland. Here's an excerpt that has stuck with me and is the driving force of what ELawShea is seeing and the graph above.
The inmates say the only difference between these neighborhoods and prison is the absence of walls. The same hierarchies apply - the meanest rise to the top. It's a survival skill that ensures ownership of drug corners, a sense of self-worth, female attention and protection from attack. 
Experts fear that the neighborhoods are only getting more violent. There are entire blocks without a single two-parent family, where drug dealers have become the predominant male role models, and children fend for themselves in crowded, chaotic homes where they are routinely exposed to drugs, sex and guns. 
Criminal families are on their third and fourth generations. Grandparents - the ones who have historically stepped in to help raise fatherless boys and instill a sense of right and wrong - are dying off.
Emphasis mine. The culture of moral relativism isn't static. That is, you don't decide to treat all families as equal and immediately the results become evident. As one generation gives way to the next, the effects of our cultural decisions evolve. ELawShea is seeing the evolutionary decay of civilization.

The key point here is not the decay, but the fact that he and others are coming to the same, shocked conclusion. Just like Mary Mitchell, confronted with the harvest of our secular obsession with self-gratification, they're tumbling to the same prudicious conclusions as the rest of us.

People aren't deliberately stupid and blind. They don't like to live in chaos, violence and uncertainty. The evidence is all around them and lots of folks are starting to wake up to the problem. That right there is a reason to be optimistic.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Welcome To The Fight, Mary Mitchell

When a 13-year-old boy shows up in a rap video cursing like a grown man, flashing money and posing with a gun, his parents and other adults involved are morally bankrupt.

Here's the video*. It's way hideous and I'm not embedding it here. As I gave you the link, feel free to leave a comment about me and moral fig leaves.

I dunno. I'm not sure where to go with this after those two links. It's not like this is any kind of surprise and Mary's shock and horror speak more to her need to break out of her progressive bubble than anything else. Chicago's flash mob robbery groups aren't carding their members so had he gone along on one of their charming outings, Lil Mouse might have fit somewhere around the second standard deviation on the age curve.

Mary's all wound up about the guns and the swearing, but that's a feature, not a bug when it comes to our postmodern culture of moral relativism. I haven't read any of her other work, but scanning the comments in that essay, it's a good bet that up to now, Mary's been part of the problem.

Having said that, Mary is making the right analysis and it shows that some amount of moral awakening is possible. How far she goes depends on her. If she's fatalistic, she'll be buying 9mm ammo and bottled water 5 years from now. If she's got some fight in her, she'll keep going after this. Let's hope it's the latter.

This post is too grim. I like daisies. Here's a pretty one.
* - The video is pretty lousy, even for amateur rap. Lil Mouse seems to lose interest in the whole affair about  halfway through and sleepwalks his way through the end of the song. That goes along with his demeanor in the video - he looks like he's been getting by on about 4 hours of sleep a night and eating rubbish. Which he probably has**.

** - I blame Dean and his endless racism.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

California Needs To Do More To Combat Global Warming

... err, Climate Change.

We need to really hitch up our britches and get to work because I don't think India is going to be joining the fight any time soon.

Not to worry, though. California is up to the challenge.

This graphic was made for China, not India. Feel free to add or subtract a few dudes and change their clothes and faces if that's what turns you on.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

And I'll Bet You Didn't Know They Had Amphetamines In The Middle Ages

I was playing around with Adobe Premiere CS6* and I grabbed a few medieval videos off the web to experiment. One was a Soviet treatment of Ivanhoe from the early 1980s. It had some notable differences from the gold standard of all Ivanhoes, Robert Taylor's 1952 classic.

For one thing, there were no references to religion and only one girl, Rebecca. In the original Ivanhoe, the knight champions the cause of the beautiful Rebecca, a drop-dead, gorgeous Jewess played by Elizabeth Taylor while he is betrothed to Joan Fontaine's Saxon princess, Rowena. There's jealousy and a tension about who he's going to end up with, spiced by Jew vs. Christian verbal wrangling. In the end, he fights a duel for Rebecca, but goes back to Rowena**.

In the Soviet version, there doesn't seem to be a Rowena and Ivanhoe ends up marrying Rebecca, but bailing out immediately to do work. Literally. The final scene is Ivanhoe riding off directly after marrying the girl. And not the next morning, either, if you get my drift. It's the age-old Soviet love story. Boy woos tractor, boy loses tractor, boy wins tractor, 5-year-plan is met.

Anyway, I grabbed the video and was scrubbing through it at high speed when I came across the segment below. I laugh out loud every time I see the guys at about 0:05 squeaking like rodents. Enjoy.

* - If CS5 was magical, CS6 is positively otherwordly.

** - No mention was made about whether or not he considered becoming Moslem and marrying them both.

Monday, August 06, 2012

This Works On So Many Levels

First we have the Hitlerjugend, err, gay activists suggesting that businesses whose owners have inappropriate thoughts be shut down.
Equality Illinois is urging socially responsible business and institutional leaders across the country to challenge Chick-fil-A's discriminatory practices and end all relationships that enable the Chick-fil-A brand to operate on their premises. 
We urge mall owners who rent space to Chick-fil-A to look deeply at the hateful organizations the company supports. We ask university officials to reconsider accommodating a business that ostracizes a large segment of their student body. We want corporate leaders who allow Chick-fil-A to do business in their offices to consider a new restaurant option during contract renegotiations.
Upon reading this piece of fascist intellectual vomit, I thought of this little snippet from Cabaret.

It's so totally perfect. It's from a musical with Liza Minnelli, it's an uplifting song, the audience is all nodding in approval at the expression of Proper Thoughts, it's performed in an attractive manner by a sweet, innocent boy wearing a uniform associated with S and M and any rational person (ie, none of the intended audience) knows exactly where this is leading. It's as if Bob Fosse, John Kander and Fred Ebb saw this stuff coming 40 years ago.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

La Hormiga Y La Cigarra

The last paragraph of Aesop's fable
IN a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. 
“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?” 
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.” 
“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food, and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew: “IT IS BEST TO PREPARE FOR THE DAYS OF NECESSITY.”
is being played out in Spain.
My cousin is a sick man today. My father paid for his last treatment with a psychiatrist. Pepe doesn't tell anyone in the family how much debt he has, but it must be millions, and we've all come to terms with the fact that he'll never be debt-free again. His daughter, the medical student, works as a supermarket cashier. When I see him on the day after my arrival, he, my father and I have a coffee together. Pepe says only two words, "hola" and, at the end, "adios." 
The crisis has changed him, and it's changing Spain. Perhaps the country is recognizing that there are no shortcuts to Europe, and no clever tricks. Simply introducing a hard currency, building dozens of airports, rail lines and golf courses, and putting an A6 in every garage -- that doesn't work.
That paragraph doesn't do the full story justice. It's worth clicking on the link to read more.

El Dave Ramsey Mostrar debería ser de escucha obligatoria en España. 

Saturday, August 04, 2012

A Father's Reach Should Exceed His Grasp

... else how to teach kids to be ambitious? Or something like that.

So this summer, my parenting goals have included teaching my daughter to be self-motivated and become really good at something. She chose soccer, specifically working on her speed. In addition to this, I wanted her to manage her own diet and understand the value of healthy eating. I'm falling back off that last one and just focusing on the first.

It's one thing to understand diet and nutrition. It's quite another to be able to resist temptation when your weaknesses include a love of carbs and a touch of sloth. Eating something healthy is a bit more work than opening the box of Cheez-its (nature's most perfect food). Right now, that's a battle that can't be won without a lot more work than I'm willing to give, so I'm punting on that and going back to being her Dietary Police Force.

As for the self-motivation, she's starting to pick up on that. I've got her reading Talent is Overrated and she's beginning to see how and why this whole practice thing works. She's always complained that some girls pick up the game easier than she does. When we discussed one in particular, it turned out that the girl played field hockey on the high school team in the fall season. While the other girl was doing that, my daughter was playing club soccer.

Club soccer practices twice a week. Field hockey practices 5 days a week. Two hour practices give the other girl a 6 hour per week advantage. Assuming a 12-week season, that adds up to 72 more hours of practice for the other girl over my daughter. Clearly, my daughter has to put in time on her own to keep up.

That kind of thing is proving to be an easier lesson to learn than the eating. In soccer, the temptations of sloth can be overcome with some encouragement and an object lesson or two in her team practices where she sees other girls who are better than she is.

This summer has seen one success and one failure. Oh well. If you succeed at everything you try, it just means you're not ambitious enough, right?

Friday, August 03, 2012

Why Did Rahm Attack Chick-fil-A?

WC Varones, Word Warrior, Left Coast Rebel, SarahBMut and Dean have all posted excellent pieces on the total success of Chick-fil-A (CFA) Appreciation Day as well as the fascist nature of the original attack on CFA. I won't recapitulate that here. Instead, I'm fascinated by the decision made by the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel, to get involved in this in the first place.

First off, I have total respect for Rahm Emmanuel as a professional. I think he has risen to the top of his profession through a ruthless ambition that honed his natural political talents into a sophisticated and expert set of marketing skills. Rahm is a pro's pro. So why did he go after CFA over traditional marriage? From the outside, it seems like a pointless, unforced error.

For starters, let's do away with the notion that his threat to use government power to enforce moral orthodoxy was an aberration. The modern Democratic Party has become the American Fascist Party. From Nanny Bloomberg in New York regulating cola sizes to California's insanity du jour, they no longer recognize any restraints on government and react to suggestions that limits might exist with genuine shock.

That right there is the answer of a fascist. So exploiting CFA to further expand government authority isn't the answer. The CFA attack was just a reasonable exercise of power they feel they already possess.

Some have suggested that Rahm was just energizing the progressive base. I'm not buying that one, either. The Democrats went on to endorse gay marriage in their 2012 party platform so there was hardly a need to create a sideshow over CFA.

The Explanation: Life In The Bubble

Rahm did it because everyone he knows thinks the same way. As far as he can tell, all rational, open-minded, moral people believe in gay marriage. Opponents are nothing more than crazed bigots and everyone knows it.

A photo circulated on Twitter by the fascists.
Rahm's decision to attack CFA was a dramatic example of the bubble that most  progressives live in. There's no question that the bubble exists. Most progressives simply don't understand conservative positions, hence the endless accusations of racism and homophobia.
But Haidt’s research went one step further, asking self-indentified conservatives to answer those questionnaires as if they were liberals and for liberals to do the opposite. What Haidt found is that conservatives understand liberals’ moral values better than liberals understand where conservatives are coming from. Worse yet, liberals don’t know what they don’t know; they don’t understand how limited their knowledge of conservative values is. If anyone is close-minded here it’s not conservatives.
When Rahm publicly went after CFA, he was just articulating what he thinks all normal, rational people believe. CFA values weren't Chicago Values. They were the beliefs of closed-minded bigots. His decision to attack CFA naturally fell out of his analysis of the situation. After all, when confronted with blatant bigotry, who wouldn't have summoned the press and unleashed a broadside?

Secondary Evidence

Progressives have organized a gay kiss-in at Chick-fil-A restaurants for today to bring attention to what they think it the anti-gay hate of CFA. I can't imagine an event that could better exhibit the total ignorance of the progressives. The owner of CFA doesn't discriminate against gays in any way, shape or form as employees or customers. He just doesn't equate traditional marriage and gay marriage. Our understanding of biology, that mixing two sperm or two eggs will not produce a baby, indicates that there might be a non-bigoted reason to differentiate between the two types of couples. The gay kiss-in is the product of mind-blowing blindness to the conservative position. It's the bubble on display.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Don't Wait

Within the Catican Compound, we're dealing with a serious illness to a distant family member. Fortunately, we've been in contact and on good terms so we have no regrets. However, earlier this year, we contemplated a visit. We finally decided to go and we had a great time. Had we not gone, however, things might be very different.

Don't wait to visit.
Don't wait to call.
Don't wait to write.
Don't wait to say, "I love you.".
Don't wait to forgive.

Life's full of chances to reach out and share some warmth. Carpe diem.

Viking Raiders

Watching the flashrob video I posted a few days ago, I was suddenly struck by the similarity between a pack of looters swiftly descending in a coordinated attack on an outnumbered and practically defenseless shop and this.

Pick out a target, gather your forces, jump in your longboat/car, raid, loot and flee back home. When it's successful, brag about it to your friends who decide they want to get in on the action. After a few good raids, get your bards to sing songs and tell stories about your brave deeds to the rest of your clan which encourages others to try to top what you did so they win the highest honors.

This doesn't end well for anyone.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

My Favorite US Olympian

... is Gabby Douglas. That young lady has been a real pleasure to watch. 

And yours is ...?

Email Scam

Our Official Artist notified me on Twitter yesterday that he had received a strange email from me. He sent me the message and here's a portion of it.
I hope your job is going well. I wanted to tell you to a superb job opportunity in locality.
We have had many of our members take this opportunity and I have heard lots of great success stories.
This newsite has an article featuring one of our clients, Kelly Richards. It will also you all you all the relevant information you need to get started.
The link is (LINK DELETED) and I guess the story will be featured on the home-page until tomorrow. 
The list of addressees was strange. It was a mix of personal friends who don't have a web presence, bloggers I've emailed and bloggers where my only interaction has been to leave a comment. That last tidbit makes me think that it did not originate from my PC, but instead was harvested off the web. The folks who don't have web presences are ones I might have emailed from a website, forwarding a funny link.

I've never really worried about identity theft on the Internet, but in this case, the K T Cat email has been swiped and used by unscrupulous infidels. I'm not sure what I can do about it other than notify my friends, all of whom are sufficiently sophisticated to have figured this out.


Elsewhere: The Email Scams blog has a short entry on this one, but it doesn't describe how it works.

Update: The thing is clearly going around. A Google search on This newsite has an article featuring one of our clients, Kelly Richards turns up a bunch of message boards that clearly have been email-updated with the message.