Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cheezburger of the Day

I'm not a Big Fan of Bottled Water

It's not that I don't think it tastes better, it's just that it seems stupid to extrude a plastic bottle for a one-time delivery of some water to me. I thought we were supposed to be an environmentally conscious society. The whole thing seems like a colossal waste.

Obamacare - the Sequel

Approximate key quote - "The Administration is saying that it's premature for McDonald's to say they need to drop this plan."

How very true. McDonalds lives in it's own delusional fantasy land where they believe you have to make what's called a "profit" in order to "survive". These may seem like strange terms to you and I, as we completely believe in hyper-educated, Ivy League technocrats who know what's best for all of us, but I assure you, there are still ignorant, benighted places out there where people cling bitterly to the idea of the so-called "free market".

The sooner we move to single-payer health care, the better it will be for all of us. Oh, and we really ought to increase the Minimum Wage for those oppressed workers at McDonalds. I think $25 an hour ought to do the trick, don't you?

On Condors

Why is this man wearing a puppet on his hand?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This Is A Good Time To Start A Trade War

We've got them just where we want them! Attack the Chinese! Attack them!
China, the biggest foreign investor in U.S. government bonds, cut its holdings by about 10 percent to $846.7 billion in the 12 months ended July, according to the Treasury Department.
Uh oh. That doesn't sound good. Well, no worries, we can deal with this, right?
The U.S. will record a $1.3 trillion budget deficit for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the Congressional Budget Office said Aug. 19.

The estimated budget deficit for this fiscal year would be equivalent to 9.1 percent of gross domestic product, the CBO said. That would make it the second-largest shortfall in 65 years, exceeded only by the 9.9 percent in 2009.
Not to worry, we still have our secret weapon.

As long as we can buy paper and ink, we'll never be out of money!

Where Should You Store Your Cookbooks?

... in your car, of course! Since you haven't made a menu in advance and nothing has been taken out of the freezer to thaw, the best place for your cookbooks is in your car. That way when you leave work and it dawns on you that you need to make dinner, surprising you for the 12,983rd time in a row, you can pick out a recipe and buy the ingredients on the way home.

You're welcome.

Spanish Workers Strike; More Unicorn Milk Demanded

... at least I think that's what their demanding. They might as well. There's certainly no more Spanish money to give them.
Spanish workers disrupted broadcasts and transport in the first general strike in eight years as demonstrators were set to march through Brussels for a day of protest against spending cuts by European governments.
Austerity? Why all this austerity? We can't be out of money - we still have checks in our checkbooks!
The extra yield investors demand to hold Spanish 10-year bonds instead of German equivalents rose to 198 basis points today, compared with 193 basis points yesterday and a two-month low of 137 basis points on July 27. Moody’s Investors Service is due to complete a review of Spain’s credit rating tomorrow, the same day the 2011 budget goes to Parliament.

“A disappointing budget combined with an effective general strike and a rating review on 30 September could supply that catalyst” for investors to sell Spanish debt, said Robert Crossley, a fixed-income strategist at Citigroup Inc. in London.
That anyone is waiting to sell Spanish bonds is amazing to me. How in the world do the bondholders think they're going to be paid?

They'll be paid in unicorn milk, of course!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gil Vicente Still Wets His Bed

Thanks to Andrew Klavan blogging over at Ricochet, we now know this bit of crucial info:
Brazilian artist Gil Vicente has manufactured some controversy over charcoal drawings that show him assassinating such horrors of humanity as George W. Bush, Pope Benedict XVI, Israeli PM Ariel Sharon, Queen Elizabeth and...
Here's Gil offing the Pope:

Awesome stuff there, Gil. What did that take, about 45 minutes?

What a chicken. The guy picks a bunch of people he hasn't met - people whose daily lives are a total mystery to him. He doesn't really know whether he wants to shoot them or not because he doesn't know what it is they do all day. If he had any courage as an artist at all, he would have drawn himself shooting a handful of close acquaintances, neighbors or coworkers. At least then he could offer some concrete reasons why he wanted to kill them. Instead, he's suggesting the most juvenile of actions - if I kill the Pope, I can make the Catholic Church go away.

Grow a pair, Gilster. Draw yourself shooting the teenager who lives next door to you or maybe grumpy old Tia Consuela. Think globally, act locally, dude.

Atheist Proseltyzing

Megan McArdle, bless her, wrote a very short post in praise of G K Chesterton*. The result was a flood of abusive, sneering proselytizing by atheists in the comments. It was pretty standard stuff. Science is omniscient (or soon will be) and you dummies believe in "an incoherent sky father/son/ghost transmuted from Hebrew war gods and Greek mysticism." This led me to the following thought.
My Catholic faith has made a very positive difference in my life. It's made me more charitable and understanding to others around me. I find it fascinating that the atheists in this comment thread are trying to talk me out of that influence in my life.
When you get down to it, why work so hard to convince people that listening to a priest tell them to be good for an hour a week is stupid and wrong?

* - Memo to self: read some Chesterton. People keep recommending it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Can You Use a Live Crab as a Timer?

When I was at the tidepools on Friday, I set up my little Kodak Zi8 to capture some crabs scuttling about on the rocks. I was big and the crabs were small, so they wisely hid from me, wedging themselves into various nooks and crannies in the rocks. Once the little camera was on its tripod and had started filming, I backed off about 20 yards - more than out of sight of the myopic little crustaceans.

Over time, the crabs came out of their hiding spaces to feed on the algae and weeds on the rocks.

That made me wonder if you could use a crab as a timer. Inside the crab there are chemical processes that move the crab from anxiety to relaxation. When they saw the big monster right in front of them, their bodies must have released crab adrenaline (Crabdrenaline?) which triggered their flight into the rocks. Once the threat left, it took their bodies some time to consume those chemicals to the point where they felt comfortable enough to come out and feed. Those chemical processes take a certain amount of time and could be used as a crude timer.

Smaller crabs emerged sooner than the larger ones. This indicates to me that you might be able to construct a relatively sophisticated countdown timer using a group of crabs of differing sizes.

Next time I go, I'm going to bring a ruler with me so when I video the crabs, I can have the ruler in the shot to use as a reference measure for the crabs. Since it's a chemical process and crabs are cold-blooded, the ambient temperature will matter as well - chemical processes are slower at cooler temperatures.

I wonder if I can get my daughter interested in this as a science fair experiment. Hmmmm....

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Oceans of Venus

More from my video expedition yesterday. This one can be viewed in hi-def, too.

Slow Motion Waves

Yesterday, I took my Kodak Zi8 down to the Point Loma tidepools to try to capture some wildlife videos. Those were less than successful, but more about that in another post. I was able to set the little camera up on its flexible tripod and capture some (very tiny) waves hitting the cliffs. Knowing I would want to do some time alterations later, I used the 720p, 60 frames per second setting. Here's what I ended up with, after playing with it for a bit in Premiere CS5. I uploaded it in 720p, so I recommend that setting on the embedded YouTube player. It makes a big difference.

A few observations:
  • Normal speed makes the waves look pathetic and puny, which they were. Half speed gives them a bit of majesty. Quarter speed looks weird.

  • I tried allowing the sound to retain its original pitch, but that didn't work out at all. At a quarter speed it echoed terribly. Allowing the sound to go down in pitch as I changed the speed of the video adds to the feeling of majesty.

  • In another video, I shot some waves at 1080p, 30 frames a second. Reducing those down to quarter speed gave me obvious time artifacts. The Zi8's 60 frames per second mode is a godsend for doing slow motion.

  • I wish I'd had bigger waves.
The Zi8's small size and the flexible mini-tripod I bought for it make it an ideal tool for capturing nature videos. I've got a 32GB memory card for it, so the only limitation now is battery life and I never came close to running out of that yesterday.

More videos to come in the future.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pure Awesomeness

Loretta Sanchez Is Clearly a Member of the Tea Party

Oh, sure, she's a registered Democrat running as a Democrat with the support of the Democratic Party, espousing leftist ideas, but please, people, open your eyes and ears! Just listen to this:

She just has to be a part of that racist Tea Party movement! She probably listens to Glenn Beck in secret, too.

I'll Admit It, I Only Got To About 1:30 Before I Stopped Watching

I have no idea what this was supposed to do other than make lots of people hate Stephen Colbert. There's a different audience here than there is for his Comedy Central show. This one is much broader. Colbert just spent about 5 minutes on national TV calling most of America morons. I don't know who does his publicity and booking, but they ought to be fired immediately.

A Simple Question

If you had a prehensile tail, would you try carrying three things at once and then opening a door?

A Little Bit on Christine O'Donnell

... can be found over at Secular Apostate's blog. As always, it's a great read. Here's a tidbit.
As a businessman, if these two applicants were my only two choices for a job that must be filled during a severe business crisis caused by overspending and excessive debt, I’d hire O’Donnell. It’s a no-brainer, really. Why in Heaven’s name would I hire a guy whose most recent executive experience yielded precisely the result, in spades, I need to avoid in the future?
I had no idea O'Donnell's opponent had such a dreadful fiscal record.

I Just Switched to Chrome

... and so far I like it a lot.

Good Lord, am I becoming a Google fanboy? First Blogger, then Google Docs, then my Droid and now this!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Change You Can Belive In

... whether you want it or not.

The WSJ has this bit of information on their Real Time Economics blog:
The sharp decline in U.S. household debt over the past couple years has conjured up images of people across the country tightening their belts in order to pay down their mortgages and credit-card balances. A closer look, though, suggests a different picture: Some are defaulting, while the rest aren’t making much of a dent in their debts at all ...

Our own analysis of data from the Fed and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. suggests that over the two years ending June 2010, banks and other lenders charged off a total of about $588 billion in mortgage and consumer loans.

That means consumers managed to shave off only $22 billion in debt through the kind of belt-tightening we typically envision.
The comment thread on that post is loaded with great insights. Here's the pithiest one of the lot.
Well, this is encouraging, isn’t it? The Fed is going to keep pushing on that string until it turns into a cobra.
Too late. It's already a cobra.

Borrowing money is a bad idea. There are only a few times where it makes sense - home mortgages, major business investments and financing responses to existential threats such as invasions and wars. Other than that, it's something best avoided. When you read posts like this or ones on the student loan debt crisis or California's debt crisis or any one of a hundred other debt crises, the comments are filled with good ideas for escaping that particular trap.

All those good ideas add up to one big bad idea. The problem isn't that we need to be able to write off student loans or the banks need to cut interest rates or the Fed needs to pump more $$$ into the system, it's that we're relying on lenders to give us this day our daily bread.

The culture that led us here is on life support now, but we still haven't figured that out. We're writhing and wriggling trying to get out of this or that particular mess, not yet realizing that it's the self-gratification that we need to lose, not the debt. The debt is the symptom, not the problem.

Change is coming whether you want it to or not.

H/T: Les Jones

Middle Class Markers

The Puppy Blender hits one out of the park.
One point that I haven’t blogged, but that is worth mentioning here: The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cheezburger of the Day

Why Government Doesn't Work

Dig this.
The Motor City has lots of drafty houses and tens of thousands of unemployed people. So when the U.S. Congress proposed spending $5 billion to insulate homes as part of the stimulus bill, Detroit got excited. The director of the city agency managing the program advertised for construction companies before the legislation even passed.

But on the same day in March 2009 that Shenetta Coleman picked up applications from 46 companies, she received an email from the Michigan Department of Human Services telling her she couldn't award work to anyone.

The problem: Ms. Coleman hadn't met requirements for her advertisement. Those included specifying the precise wages that contractors would have to pay, and posting the advertisement on a specific website. There were other rules—federal, state and local—for grant and contract-award processes, historic preservation and labor standards.

The bureaucratic obstacles Ms. Coleman hit took more than a year to clear. Some were mandated by the stimulus bill, the same legislation that was supposed to rapidly create jobs. For example, there is a union-backed provision that requires that weatherization workers receive the prevailing wages in the area.
First off, you really should read the whole thing. It's an excellent summary of how government works. Government contracts and grants must obey all laws and regulations in order to be awarded. These laws and regulations are an ever-increasing aggregation of every law and regulation ever passed. That means if it was this hard today, it will be harder tomorrow.

Seriously, read the whole thing. If you've never worked for or with the government, it will open your eyes quite a bit.

Sony Playstation Trying to Compete with the Wii

... is a really weird phrase to write.

Way back when the new consoles were coming out - the Playstation, the XBox 360 and the Wii - all the talk was whether the Playstation or the XBox 360 would win the most market share. Everyone dismissed the Wii as a child's toy. Whoops. The Wii has dominated both of them because it's cheap and fun. Now both Microsoft and Sony are coming out with motion sensor add-ons to their game systems in an attempt to compete with the Wii.

Good luck with that.

A Review of NFL Rewind

Short version: It is full of teh awesome!

Longer version: Every year I buy NFL Field Pass which allows me to listen to NFL radio broadcasts on demand. I like to listen to the New Orleans Saints games with the Saints' announcers while I putter in the garage. With Field Pass, I can listen to any game any time. It's a beautiful thing to listen to last week's game on a Friday night while I'm fixing something in the garage.

NFL Rewind is the video version of Field Pass. It allows you to watch any game on demand. It tethers you to your computer, but it provides you the complete library of NFL games from that season. It's great for NFL nuts like myself who like to watch and analyze games. I recently watched the first quarter of the Packers - Bills game. It was not shown here in San Diego, but being a Packers' fan, I still wanted to see the game. After watching a quarter of it, I got the idea. The Packers are really good this year, good in ways that don't show up in written summaries or stats. NFL Rewind allowed me to see that.

If you're an NFL fan, you'll love NFL Rewind. You can order it here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rethinking Koran Burning or Piss Christ or Something Like That

So our Sensitivity-Trainer-in-Chief has had a case of laryngitis when it came to cartoonist Molly Norris having her career snuffed out by Islamist threats. He was in full-throated roar when it came to the wacko who threatened to torch Korans. So much for racism or awareness or cultural acceptance or whatever it is he's supposed to represent. I guess his predominantly non-Eskimo cabinet* didn't feel like weighing in to support Molly, either. Molly, you see, tried to start Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.

I'm not a big fan of Molly or those who think desecrating anyone's religious icons is somehow a good idea. The whole episode made me think of Serrano's Piss Christ, which looked like this:

Unlike Molly, who chose the wrong crowd to insult, Andres Serrano is living large and has a new exhibition at the Yvon Lambert Gallery. It's called Shit. Truly awesome stuff, there, Andy. In addition to the lesbian and gay performance artists who fling AIDS-infected blood and feces at each other on stage, Andy's probably one of the top 100 excretion-based artists in the world. He's a genius.

Andres' genius is recognized by Open-Minded Catholic People Who Think Deeply About Such Things. There's even a poem celebrating Piss Christ. I'll let you read it here. It's lovely. The comments on that post reveal something that probably goes on all day and all night within the Obama White House. Thinking so deeply about something that it no longer makes any sense at all. Allow me to cut through the noise.
  • Piss Christ and Shit are lousy art, if they're art at all. You can tell this because your first reaction to them is, "That's just stupid."

  • Poems don't make stupid things any better. They just show you how stupid things can be turned into a mammoth waste of time and intellectual energy. Excreting while reciting poetry is still just excreting.

  • Burning Korans and drawing Mohammed are childish. You can tell this because your first reaction to it is, "That's childish. I used to draw cartoons of people in 4th grade."

  • Finally, all the talk of racism from the Democrats is hogwash. You can tell this because there aren't any Eskimos on Obama's cabinet, ergo they are racists.
You're welcome.

* - Clearly, the Democratic Party has been taken over by anti-Eskimo extremists.

What Not To Wear When Visiting The Animal Shelter

A tuna parka might be a bad idea, too.

I Agree with Gore

... Frank Gore of the San Francisco 49ers.
"We whupped their behind up and down the field," he said. "They can't stand up with us. And we beat ourselves for the second week in a row. We've got to change that."

Gore did his part, rushing for a game-high 112 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown, a 7-yard run that put the 49ers in position to tie the score with a two-point conversion...

"You watched the game tonight. What'd they do? Nothing. They didn't do anything. We beat ourselves," he said.
Last night's MNF game between the Saints and the Niners was a display of total overthinking by San Francisco. By the middle of the third quarter, the Saints defense was totally exhausted and couldn't stop Frank Gore at all. The plan for victory for the Niners was simple. Run Frank Gore. Instead, they passed and were intercepted, tried for punt returns and fumbled and did everything except run Frank Gore.

I'm happy with the result, but couldn't believe the Niners could be that stupid.

Recipe for success:
  1. Get ball.
  2. Hand ball to Frank Gore.
  3. Let Frank Gore run with the ball.

Monday, September 20, 2010

How to Make an Angry Crowd Go Away

This is priceless.


My Fantasy Team Started Eli Manning

Man, was that painful last night.

Philosophical Spam

Today I got an all-new kind of spam email.
I wasnt pleased with where my life was headed I was positive that there was a way out I felt so liberated after finding this (URL here) this totally motivated me to live a better life I know you will be sincerely happy with the result
I'm wondering just what this might be.

Perhaps it takes me to the Swami from Head.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Looking for a Desktop Dictionary / Thesaurus Widget

Right now, I'm using to look up words when I'm unsure of their spelling. Since it's a website, it can be slow and encrusted with ads. Can anyone recommend a desktop widget that would do the same thing?

Cheezburger of the Day

Last Night, About 2AM

Our Maximum Leader, who had been sleeping next to me, wakes up and decides it's time for the late night snack. We go downstairs and into the Catican where her bowl is given the requisite number of nuggets. With her contentedly crunching away, I go back to bed.

Bark bark bark. Someone's dog is barking, probably a block away. Bark bark bark. I wonder what it's barking at. Uh oh. Bark bark bark. I'm now anticipating the barking. Now I'm going to be awake, waiting for the next barking spasm. Bark bark bark. Better close the patio door. Bark bark bark. There. Much better now. Bark bark bark. Poor thing. It's not getting sleep at all tonight. Bark bark bark.

Somewhere out there is a family wondering why Fido won't get off his bed to go for a walk today. A deaf family.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

On the Eucharist and Equaltiy

Following the example of my wife, I recently became a Eucharistic Minister. There's not much to it, you just help distribute the Body of Christ or Blood of Christ at Mass. It shouldn't have been a big deal at all.

I've always been a rational Catholic. I've never been comfortable with mystics or prayerful "conversations" with God. My faith has been on the cynical side. "Body of Christ" the priest would say as he offered me the Eucharist. Many times my thoughts would be along the lines of "Yeah, yeah, whatever, let's keep the line moving, Mac" as I said "Amen." My wife has inspired me to a deeper involvement with my faith and that led me to becoming a Eucharistic Minister. The training was minor, about 2 hours in one evening and the commitment is negligible - show up at your regular Mass and help out.

The effects of doing so have been life-changing.

I just hand it out. What's the big deal here?

I've only done it 4 times now, but each time I do it, I get choked up. The biggest epiphany so far has been one of human equality. I mean total human equality. As I hand out the Body of Christ, I see old and young, fat and thin, rich and poor, black, white, Latino, Phillipino and for all I know, Eskimos. Some look upon the Eucharist with love, some with hope, some with doubt of their own worthiness and some with the cynicism that used to be me. Some are happy, some have lives filled with tragedy and others are burdened by deep sins they struggle with every day. All of them are seeking Christ.

Christ sees no distinctions, only human beings, human souls. All are equal as they receive the Eucharist, equal in the deepest, most profound way possible. In each of the few times I've done it, I've had to hold back tears as I realize what I'm doing, how I am serving as a tiny link connecting them with God and how very much most of them want it.

It's changing me in my daily life, albeit slowly. I've started seeing people around me as those who come up to receive the Eucharist. I hope it's bringing me a compassion for others, a compassion I have so often lacked. My wife calls it "Grace." I don't know about such things, but I believe her. We have very different versions of faith, she and I.

As I read this and edit it, I can see I'm struggling with what I'm trying to say. That's natural, I suppose, as I'm trying to convey a feeling, an understanding, an existential truth. We're all beloved souls and all equal before God. If He thinks we're equal, who are we to argue?

The Pope on European Population Decline

... or something like that.
"As we reflect on the sobering lessons of atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus a reductive vision of a person and his destiny," the Pontiff added.

Friday, September 17, 2010

They Know Something's Wrong, But They Don't Know What

A change is in the wind. Some have a better sense of it than others.

Michael Kinsley
They (the Baby Boomers) made alienation fashionable and turned self-indulgence (sex, drugs, rock and roll, cappuccino makers, real estate, and so on) into a religion. Their initial suspicion of the Pentagon and two presidents, Johnson and Nixon, spread like kudzu into a general cynicism about all established institutions (Congress, churches, the media, you name it). This reflexive and crippling cynicism is now shared across the political spectrum. The Boomers ran up huge public and private debts, whose consequences are just beginning to play out. In the world that Boomers will pass along to their children, America is widely held in contempt, prosperity looks to more and more people like a mirage, and things are generally going to hell.
Michael Hirsch
Economists said they would have to come up with new theories for how markets worked (following the fall of the investment banks), in particular how the financial system functioned and interacted with the “real” economy. “Large swaths of economics are going to have to be rethought on the basis of what happened,” Larry Summers, the presidential adviser who doubles as a world-renowned economist, told me in an interview shortly after Barack Obama took office.

Two years on, that rethinking has barely begun, and only with the most painful reluctance by economists. Meanwhile, policy and political debates still driven by outdated economic theory have been racing out of control, bitterly dividing the nation.
Peggy Noonan
The second thing is the clock. Here is a great virtue of the Tea Party: They know what time it is. It's getting late. If we don't get the size and cost of government in line now, we won't be able to. We're teetering on the brink of some vast, dark new world—states and cities on the brink of bankruptcy, the federal government too. The issue isn't "big spending" anymore. It's ruinous spending that they fear will end America as we know it, as they promised it to their children.
Doctor Zero
Political control is what’s killing us. It is expressed in hundreds of ways: high tax rates with carefully tailored exceptions, massive bailouts, laws rigged to favor government-controlled industries, restrictions on resource development, and a vast poppy field of subsidies and penalties. The Democrats have added thousands of pages of fabulously expensive legislation since Obama took office. Two messages echo through those pages: Obey and be rewarded. Resist and be punished.

This is not appropriate behavior for a government that was meant to live in awe of the people’s boundless freedom, and work carefully with limited powers to accomplish its sworn duties. Even the most apolitical citizen can now see that it’s also disastrous behavior.
We discarded traditional thought on marriage, saving, investing and borrowing. We tried to replace the old structures with a new one, one based on regulations and spending. We never managed to find a replacement for self-denial and self-control.

But we will.

Throwing the Baby Out with the Tradition

Leon de Winter, a Dutch writer who spends some of his time at Pajamas Media, was on the Dennis Prager Show yesterday. Asked about the declining European population, he said the problem was that Europe had thrown out cultural traditions during the 60s and 70s. Tradition gives you a sense of time as something larger than here and now. You exist as a link in a cultural chain, an important part in continuing the existance of France or Germany or Italy as France, Germany or Italy. When they gave in to cultural equivalence, they lost all sense of time and place. They could no longer define what it meant to be French and it therefore made no difference whether or not there were any more French children.

I'm struggling through The Cube and the Cathedral right now which deals with the same subject. It's not very well written and so I'm not sure if it's saying the same thing, but in it's foundational chapters it goes into great detail about the decision to exclude Christianity from the EU Constitution. The preface to that document describes the cultural bases of Europe. The constitution's authors deliberately omitted Christianity from that description in a spasm of multiculturalism. Their constitution is a codification of their sense of the world. They've deliberately severed connections with their past.

Leon de Winter's explanation has got to be the best one I've heard yet about why Europeans aren't having children. Only when you live completely in the here and now are your decisions motivated solely by personal economics and pleasure. Sacrificing for the future of your nation or culture becomes a stupid waste of energy. Why give up your vacations in Spain so you can raise the next generation of Frenchmen when being French has no meaning at all?

There's a religious aspect to this as well. When you lose connection with God, you lose a connection with time, too. There is no sense of eternity, only life in the here and now. Again, that leads to a very different set of calculations when making decisions about life.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Energizing the Base

... with a new logo that just begs to be photoshopped. I'm willing to bet that within 3 months, there will be a mocking, photoshopped version of this that outsells the original.

By the way, taking out a $13T loan at a 4% rate will run you $520B a year in interest payments alone.

John Boehner Wants To Eat Your Babies

... well, at least that's the current line from the Democrats. Just in case you've never seen John Boehner, here's what he looks like.

Make sure you show your children this picture so they learn to recognize him and run away screaming before he devours them.

If you don't know why he's so evil, make sure you read this well-researched piece of reporting from Joe Conason.
There is nothing fresh or surprising about Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, the would-be speaker, a figure so closely associated with corporate special interests that he looks, sounds and behaves exactly like a lobbyist. He golfs, drinks, smokes and maintains an unusually bronzed complexion thanks to company jets that whisk him away to his favorite Florida resorts. He seems as if he could have stepped straight out of "Thank You for Smoking," Christopher Buckley's classic spoof of Washington's cynical, morally empty K Street.
There. I hope you understand now. John Boehner wants to eat your babies. There's nothing at all to the claim that a $13T loan at a 4% interest rate will run you $520B a year in interest payments alone. Don't listen to things like that. Just keep your precious, little tykes away from John Boehner.

A Few Thoughts on Ines Sainz

... but first, some cheesecake.

Ines as she'd like you (and the New York Jets) to remember her.

Here are a few thoughts that have come to mind, particularly after enduring what seemed like a year* of Joy Behar last night on CNN talking about this.
  • I thought sexual expression was OK. What the Jets players did in the locker room was nothing compared to the behavior at your average Gay Pride parade. What's the big deal?

  • Why does Joy Behar have a show? She's an imbecile. I know CNN's ratings stink, but wasn't there a cameraman, make-up artist or pizza delivery boy available to sit in a chair and ask questions about the way people dress?

  • Will the NFL begin mandatory sexual harassment training? For the players that visit strip clubs?

  • Why, after 6000 years of civilization, are we still talking about how men are visually turned on like it's some kind of aberration? I thought this was the age of Science and Reason.

  • How big will Ines' raise be this year? How much of it will she spend on plastic surgery in the next 5 years?

  • What would be the equivalent behavior or attire by a man in a women's locker room?
There. That's as much noodling about this idiocy as I can stand.

* - It may have only been 5 minutes. With Joy on the TV, time has no meaning. (Nor does anything else, apparently.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cheezburger of the Day

How to Heat Cat Food

Last night I made some sauteed chicken with garlic and lime. Yum yum! At the same time, I took out a can of gushifud for our Maximum Leader for her dinner. She only gets a third of a can at a time and we always refrigerate the leftovers. Since I don't like to give her cold food (after all, she is our Maximum Leader), I try to find ways to heat them before they are served. Here's what we did last night:

I balanced the can on the handle of the skillet and let the steam rising from the dish warm her food. It worked wonderfully well!

What the GOP Should Learn from Delaware

... is that we're not voting for Republicans, we're voting for ideas. Smaller government is the biggie. Establishment Republicans don't stand for smaller government, they stand for slower growth of government.

We. Don't. Want. That.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Thought They Were Limes

... instead, they were unripe oranges. They should be interchangeable, right?

Connecting the Dots

... and they're not that far apart.

Kathleen Sebelius, head of HHS:
After claims from insurance companies that they plan to dramatically increase premiums this year because of the Affordable Care Act, the White House fired off a threat to the industry's main lobbying group today.

Writing to the head of America's Health Insurance Plans, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said insurers that hike rates for consumer unjustifiably may be locked out from the state exchanges due to be set up by 2014. These exchanges will be the primary means by which small groups and individuals will purchase coverage. Being excluded from these marketplaces could be devastating to insurers.
Juan Peron:
As economic doctrine Justicialism realizes the social economy, placing capital at the service of the economy and the latter at the service of social well-being.
You still get to own property, but only so long as you do what the government tells you to do with it.

Just FYI - Juan Peron was a fascist.

Keeping King's Dream Alive

Monday, September 13, 2010

St. Augustine and the Department of Health and Human Services

From Section 2, Chapter 4 of St. Augustine's City of God:
Chapter 4.—That the Worshippers of the Gods Never Received from Them Any Healthy Moral Precepts, and that in Celebrating Their Worship All Sorts of Impurities Were Practiced.

First of all, we would ask why their gods* took no steps to improve the morals of their worshippers. That the true God should neglect those who did not seek His help, that was but justice; but why did those gods, from whose worship ungrateful men are now complaining that they are prohibited, issue no laws which might have guided their devotees to a virtuous life? Surely it was but just, that such care as men showed to the worship of the gods, the gods on their part should have to the conduct of men. But, it is replied, it is by his own will a man goes astray. Who denies it? But none the less was it incumbent on these gods, who were men’s guardians, to publish in plain terms the laws of a good life, and not to conceal them from their worshippers. It was their part to send prophets to reach and convict such as broke these laws, and publicly to proclaim the punishments which await evil-doers, and the rewards which may be looked for by those that do well. Did ever the walls of any of their temples echo to any such warning voice? I myself, when I was a young man, used sometimes to go to the sacrilegious entertainments and spectacles; I saw the priests raving in religious excitement, and heard the choristers...
A search on the HHS website for the term "illegitimacy" turned up 14 hits - none from 2010 and only one each from 2009 and 2008. A search on the term "diversity" turned up 736 hits, 48 from 2010.

"We would ask why their gods took no steps to improve the morals of their worshippers."

* - Well, gods or government.

You'd Have Thought That They'd Be Having More Orgasms

The French and the other Euros have thrown off the yoke of religious oppression! Hooray!

No longer do they let some creep in robes tell them what they can and can't do in their bedrooms! Their lives must be awash in sexual fulfillment!
More than three-quarters of Gallic couples have bad sex lives, the Institute for Public Opinion found.

More than one in three women said they had used excuses such as headaches, tiredness or children being nearby to get out of having sex.

Nearly one in six men said they had also made similar excuses.

Showering Is For Losers

I'm telecommuting this week because my offices are being renovated*. I could totally get used to this. With chat rooms and VPN connections to work and my feline supervisor on hand, I'm finding myself very productive and totally relaxed. Life is good and my carbon footprint is much smaller. Way cool.

* - Yes, it's a massive renovation of my office. It will soon be equivalent to the Taj Mahal. Particularly the parts where the Taj Mahal had doors that worked, a carpet without massive gaps in it and the mouse holes in the walls were patched.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Can Opener Goes Off Around 0:26

Why The Left Hates Palin

... is still a bit of a mystery to me. The lefties I know love to talk about how "stupid" she is, but compared to Joe Biden or Maxine Waters, she's a genius. Here's a randomly selected clip of Maxine from YouTube.

If Sarah Palin is stupid, Maxine Waters is sub-reptilian and Joe Biden ought to be in an insect exhibition. It's not about stupidity at all. If it were, late-night comedians would place Sarah well below the cut line in their lists of people to mock.

So what is it?

Shannon Love, blogging at Chicago Boyz, has this theory about the hatred for Sarah.
Leftism at its heart holds that a small percentage of humans have a vastly superior understanding of everything compared to ordinary people. The point of leftism is to empower these superior individuals to impose their superior understanding upon society by the force of the state. Leftists must be viewed by themselves and others as superior human beings if they are to have a claim to power and status ...

(Leftists) demand that people go to the right elitist schools. They demand that people live in certain communities. They demand that people have the right recreational interests. They demand that people enjoy uniform kinds of art and music. They demand that people have the proper modes of speech, accent and allusion. They demand that people have the right religious beliefs. And so on.

On this basis Palin is a nightmare: She went to a state college. She lives in the “backwoods”. She likes hunting, fishing and sports. She likes country music and representational art. She doesn’t have the right accent. She doesn’t dress appropriately. She’s a Pentecostal instead of atheist, Unitarian, Episcopalian, etc.
I don't buy this completely. I don't think there is that much fear involved. Instead, it looks to me like smug superiority instead of fear. I think the middle paragraph hits it on the head. "Look at that stupid Sarah! She's all about guns and Jesus and stuff like that. How pathetic." It's not hatred so much as it is their natural reaction to mock the bitter clingers of flyover country as knuckle-dragging troglodytes.

Their hatred of Palin is the conversation bigots might have in private where the ethnic jokes come out because the audience is all of the same mind. They talk as if we're all bigots right along with them. To me that suggests cultural insulation. It's OK to make fun of Sarah in public because they don't know anyone who would disagree with them.

I would suggest that the mockery of Sarah Palin is simply raw bigotry on display.

Update: I don't know if this makes sense. Bush was "stupid" and he went to Yale.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

We're Saved!

Thanks to Ezra Klein's interview of former SEIU Goon-in-Chief Andy Stern, we now have a way forward out of our economic mess!
If we want to return the country to the kind of strong and stable economic growth that provides good jobs and decent wages -- not to mention is necessary to solve our long-term fiscal crisis -- we need to create 17 million new jobs. This would cut our unemployment rate by about half over the next two years.

But to create 17 million jobs, we need big, bold ideas. So, let’s come up with a plan. And let’s force our leaders and employers to act.
What a novel concept! First we come up with a massive government plan and then we force people to submit to it! At last, an idea worthy of El Presidente!

Hooray for Ezra! Hooray for Andy! Hooray for forcing people to do things!

How Is Burning Korans Even Remotely Christian?

What planet are these people on?

We All Work for the Banks

In noodling a bit more about Alan Greenberg's book, The Rise and Fall of Bear Stearns, I've come to the conclusion that we're all essentially working for the banks*. I know I'm coming to this late, but here's the simple logic that finally hit me.

We depend on financial stability to thrive. Any major calamity in the banking system must be underwritten by the government because that's the only entity large enough to bail it out. That means we all backstop everything the bankers do, no matter what it is.

This is the key element missing in Greenberg's worldview. All he thought about was profit for Bear Stearns. He never showed awareness that he and his industry possessed an apocalyptic weapon. At the end of the book, when everything fell to pieces, he still talks about who did what to whom in Bear Stearns. Like we care. That nimrod and his little friends turned investments into a video game where the scores got higher and higher and connections with reality became more and more tenuous until it all finally blew up.

If I was rewriting the banking rules, I would simplify the whole thing - you have to service the loans you make. Period. Once you make a loan, you own it. You can pay your employees anything you want, but you can't get rid of the loans you make. No more bundling things up, slicing and dicing them and selling them off or playing strange tricks with them, squeezing fees out of every transaction.

Having read his book, I'm sick of Greenberg and all his buddies. I certainly don't want to be working for him.

* - "Banks" here is shorthand for the entire investment industry.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

And In Other News, Fidel Asserts That Water Is Wet

Thanks to our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings, we now know something more about Fidel Castro.
Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, asked if Cuba's economic system was still worth exporting to other countries, and Castro replied: "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore" Goldberg wrote Wednesday in a post on his Atlantic blog.
We know Fidel can be taught.

"Is it worth exporting?" is the biggest gimme question of all time and Fidel finally gets it right. The place is in total ruins just like every other socialist / fascist nation ever in the entire history of Mankind. Is it worth exporting? Yeah, Fidel, it is. To Michael Moore's house. Mikey, standby to receive a brain-dead piece of junk philosophy in 3..2..1..

Fidel, this is water. It's wet.

Computer Security Kitteh

Computer security kitteh  is scanning for threats

A Simple Question

If tax breaks for first-time home buyers stole demand from the future so that when they expired home sales fell and if cash for clunkers stole demand from the future so that when it ended car sales fell, what will $50B of stimulus money for transportation infrastructure do? Is there a demand function for whatever the government does or does the government live outside of the laws of economics?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Link of the Day

This is worth a complete read. Here's a tidbit.
Two years ago this month saw the beginning of the financial-sector meltdown that is the primary feature of the current high-unemployment, slow-growth mess. Since then, Republican and Democratic presidents and Treasury Secretaries alike have announced bold plan after bold plan after bold plan. Often the plans change week-to-week. Many of the plans are just political talking points, with no follow-through. Many are mutually contradictory, like advocating tax cuts and tax increases simultaneously.

Here’s what the endless succession of plans has in common – they haven’t worked. If something hasn’t worked, why does this cause us to think more of the same is required? The White House, Treasury Department and Congress should stop contemplating new plans.

Endless emphasis at high political levels on the need to “do something,” if only to appease the press, communicates the message that U.S. leadership is either panicky or has no idea what’s going on or both.

Voting to Buy Time

As I've listened and read about the upcoming elections, I've heard nothing at all from the Republicans that makes me think they have a solid concept of what has happened over the past 40 years. There is nothing from them addressing the cultural decay that led to our financial collapse. No one talks about social mobility being a function of self-denial and sacrifice which itself is a product of our cultural moral values. Instead, it's all gimmicks and accusations.

I've decided that I'm voting to buy time. The Democrats will wreck the nation in short order through insane spending. The Republicans will do the same, only much, much more slowly. The Democrats have no concept whatsoever about what makes people rich and what makes them poor. The Republicans might understand it, but if they do, they're keeping their mouths shut. At least they'll drive us off the cliff slow enough to give us a chance to sort this out.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Nightmares Last Night

I had a recurring nightmare last night that kept waking me up. Zombie squirrels were forcing me to translate Paradise Lost into Polish.

As I understand it, that's a pretty common one.

"He's Got Lasers! Tell Me A Mascot Who's Got Lasers!"

It was the ultimate selling point, but it doesn't seem to have worked.

Chart of the Day

The source and analysis is here.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Went to Ikea Today

We wanted a Sindal, but there weren't any in the color we wanted - burnt fuchsia. We looked at a Fläng, but ended up with a Burken.

Ain't that always the way it goes at Ikea?

Cheezburger of the Day

Clouds Coming in over Haleakala

This video really needs Enya music, but I've not yet had success posting videos on YouTube with Enya soundtracks - they all get removed for copyright reasons. Instead, I used the music available on YouTube and like the results.


Sunday, September 05, 2010

Mark Steyn Returns

... and the result is hilarious*!

The Ricochet podcast is always worthwhile.

* - It's probably something to download and listen to in the car because it's over an hour long.

NCAA Football Season Has Started

Could you get me a beer?

Dean responded to our challenge and called The Big Game of week 1 with perfect accuracy as Buffalo beat Rhode Island, 31-0. Way to go, Dean!

Swans or Gourds?

At first glance, these look like ...

Swans, err, gourds from my parents' garden.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Schadenfreude Link of the Day

This is a must-read. There are no words to describe just how delicious this is.

Racism at the Buffalo News

... and this time I'm not kidding.

Balloon Juice has a blog post about this Buffalo News story and the neighborhood reaction to it. Synopsis: 8 young, black adults were shot outside a nightclub. Buffalo News analysis piece: 7 of them had pretty serious rap sheets. Here's the racist part:
"A felony prosecution or conviction increases your statistical likelihood of becoming a victim of a crime, and it's particularly true for men and particularly true for African-Americans," said Yvonne Downes, a criminal justice professor at Hilbert College.
What does being black have to do with anything? It has no causal relationship to the event at all. There was no reason to throw that in to the story. Of much more interest would have been the marital status of their parents. At least that has causation associated with it. Instead, the Buffalo News treats previous arrests, themselves events caused by something, as root causes. Race is thrown in because it's what we all talk about as if it mattered.

Properly written, the story should have read like this: "Growing up in a broken home increases your statistical likelihood of becoming both a victim and a perpetrator of a crime, and it's particularly true for men." That would indicate proper causation and would remove the irrelevant racial makeup of those involved.

Instead, we talk about race. Constantly.

Meanwhile, the Balloon Juice blogger wants drugs legalized, reasoning that if you remove laws, you'll have less crime. At least that makes logical sense, even if the idea is blindingly stupid.

Either this is Sublime or it's a Sign of Armageddon Approaching

A parrot making a vuvuzela sound.

I'm in the "sublime" category.

Friday, September 03, 2010

By "We" He Means "You"

Steve Hawking is worried about aliens coming to Earth to sieze our women*.
Professor Hawking has been quite outspoken in recent months over a number of issues.

In April documentary series, he argued that it is 'perfectly rational' to assume intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe.

And in an extraordinary series of assertions, he said Earth might be at risk from what he imagines to be 'massive ships' which could try to colonise our planet and plunder our resources.

Professor Hawking said: 'We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.
From reading his writings, it's a good bet that "we" and "ourselves" don't include him. Does this remind you of anyone?

* - Or something like that.

In the Catican

Thursday, September 02, 2010

I'm Surprised She Didn't Get Bitten

I had always thought that hedgehogs were fierce creatures.

One for the Christmast List

City of God

... well, the beginning of it at least.

Yesterday I used my monthly Audible book credit to download St. Augustine's City of God. The reading is 47 hours long and I've only heard the first 45 minutes of it, but I really like it. I struggled with St. Augustine's Confessions, but this flows much better.

City of God was written after the sack of Rome. The books starts with St. Augustine ripping those who claim that Rome fell because the people stopped worshiping the old gods of Rome. You could lift the chapter, change a few names and use it to whack the televangelists who claim that this or that disaster is due to God's anger at our sins. Timeless stuff, this.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Obama's Iraq Speech

... bored me. I listened for about 3 minutes and then turned on my MLB AtBat app on my Droid and listened to Jerry Howarth announce the Blue Jays - Devil Rays game. I used to be a huge Toronto Blue Jays fan and I've always thought that Jerry was an excellent play-by-play man.

It was a good choice. The Jays scored 10 runs in the 6th inning as I listened.

The little bit I heard of the speech seemed like standard Obama blahblahblah. We need an industrial policy and an education policy and a this policy and a that policy. For the last few decades we have neglected to spend enough and have enough policies. "We" being the State. The speech could have been given by Juan Peron, easily.

In the little bit I heard, I couldn't understand how the speech could ever come to have been written. His words indicated no awareness of the last 21 months. Hundreds of billions of dollars had been spent on precisely what he was suggesting and the results were horrible. It was as if he had been living on another planet all that time and just popped in to give this speech. Since no rationale was given for the new spending and policies and we had just seen how badly things like that worked, the speech seemed strange and disconnected from reality.

I Am So This Cheezburger!


Raghuram G. Rajan of The New Republic is rightly concerned about the effects of inequality on our economy. The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. Raghuram is a very smart fellow and he has a prescription for solving the problem.
Here’s what I’d like to see instead: the United States improving the capabilities of all of its working-age population and then providing exactly the creative and knowledge-based services that growing emerging markets need. As the demand in these markets expands, the dynamic U.S. economy will grow alongside, banishing current fears about unsustainable debt and unfunded entitlements. But to reach this future, America needs to accept it has more than a cyclical problem. It has to give more Americans the ability to compete in the global marketplace. This is much harder than doling out credit or keeping interest rates really low, but it will pay off in the long-run.
Unfortunately, Raghuram is solving the wrong problem.