Thursday, December 31, 2009

Musical interlude

Wishing all my readers a Happy New year and a great 2010!

A performance of the obligatory, and iconic, Auld Lang Syne, this one featuring violinist Andre Rieu:

Study: Music therapy can ease tinnitus symptoms

From Newsmax Health, comes this news that may be of interest to those who suffer from tinnitus:
Individually designed music therapy may help reduce noise levels in people suffering from tinnitus, or ear ringing, German scientists said on Monday.

The researchers designed musical treatments adapted to the musical tastes of patients with ear-ringing and then stripped out sound frequencies that matched the individual's tinnitus frequency.

After a year of listening to these "notched" musical therapies, patients reported a distinct decrease in the loudness of ringing compared with those who had listened to non-tailored placebo music, the researchers wrote in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

Article here. Sounds promising.

America: Guaranteed default

From a commentary by Porter Stansberry:
It's one of those numbers that's so unbelievable you have to actually think about it for a while...

Within the next 12 months, the U.S. Treasury will have to refinance $2 trillion in short-term debt. And that's not counting any additional deficit spending, which is estimated to be around $1.5 trillion.

Put the two numbers together. Then ask yourself, how in the world can the Treasury borrow $3.5 trillion in only one year? That's an amount equal to nearly 30% of our entire GDP. And we're the world's biggest economy. Where will the money come from?

How did we end up with so much short-term debt? Like most entities that have far too much debt – whether subprime borrowers, GM, Fannie, or GE – the U.S. Treasury has tried to minimize its interest burden by borrowing for short durations and then "rolling over" the loans when they come due. As they say on Wall Street, "a rolling debt collects no moss."

What they mean is, as long as you can extend the debt, you have no problem. Unfortunately, that leads folks to take on ever greater amounts of debt... at ever shorter durations... at ever lower interest rates. Sooner or later, the creditors wake up and ask themselves: What are the chances I will ever actually be repaid? And that's when the trouble starts. Interest rates go up dramatically. Funding costs soar. The party is over. Bankruptcy is next.

When governments go bankrupt, it's called a "default." Currency speculators figured out how to accurately predict when a country would default. Two well-known economists – Alan Greenspan and Pablo Guidotti – published the secret formula in a 1999 academic paper. The formula is called the Greenspan-Guidotti rule.

The rule states: To avoid a default, countries should maintain hard currency reserves equal to at least 100% of their short-term foreign debt maturities. The world's largest money-management firm, PIMCO, explains the rule this way: "The minimum benchmark of reserves equal to at least 100% of short-term external debt is known as the Greenspan-Guidotti rule. Greenspan-Guidotti is perhaps the single concept of reserve adequacy that has the most adherents and empirical support."

The principle behind the rule is simple. If you can't pay off all of your foreign debts in the next 12 months, you're a terrible credit risk. Speculators are going to target your bonds and your currency, making it impossible to refinance your debts. A default is assured.

So how does America rank on the Greenspan-Guidotti scale? It's a guaranteed default. ...

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Tonight's stunt - Eric Scott goes for the world jetpack record:

What you have in common with King Nebuchadnezzar

Some interesting facts from Jeff Clark, editor of Casey Research's Gold & Resource Report:
... But I can address Betsy’s misunderstanding now, because part of what she said is correct: gold is not an investment. Gold’s primary purpose is to preserve your purchasing power. Whether it be roaring inflation, or dollar debasement, or economic upheaval, or out-of-control government spending, it has been the absolute best form of protection throughout the history of mankind. And I can prove it.

Let’s trace what an ounce of gold or silver – true money – has been able to purchase at various periods in history, and how it compares to today.

1979: Gold’s average price that year was $306.68. This bought an average-priced full size bed.

* 30 years later, $950 would still buy you a full size bed.

1963: A gallon of gasoline in America sold for 31 cents. This meant that 3 silver dimes could buy a gallon of gasoline. The total weight of silver in 3 silver dimes is .217 of an ounce.

* Today, 3 silver dimes would buy a gallon of gasoline anywhere in the U.S.

600 AD: In the Middle East, a chicken at the time of Mohammad would cost a family one silver Dirham (3 grams).

* Today, 1,400 years later, a chicken in the Middle East would still cost a family one silver Dirham.

Time of Christ: Under the Roman Empire, an ounce of gold purchased a Roman citizen his toga (suit), a leather belt, and a pair of sandals.

* Today, one ounce of gold will still buy a man a suit, a leather belt, and a pair of shoes.

400 BC: Some scholars report that during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, an ounce of gold bought 350 loaves of bread.

* Today, an ounce of gold still buys about 350 loaves ($950 divided by 350 = $2.73/loaf).

1000 BC: King Solomon was known to have purchased many horses for his army. Historical records show he bought them in Egypt for 150 shekels of silver each. 150 shekels was about 55 troy ounces of silver.

* Today, you can still buy a riding horse for 55 troy ounces of silver ($800).

Read it here. Got precious metals?

2010, the year of bankrupt governments

From NY Post columnist Ralph Peters:
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. But he only comes for kids -- not for governments that have bragged, borrowed and spent their way into bankruptcy. Two Thousand Ten is going to belong to the Grinch.

For spendthrift governments around the world, the new year's going to bring massive defaults. The new globalization may be the globalization of a second wave of financial crises.

The world economy is not convalescing. It's just been pumped full of unaffordable medicines. Borrowing madly, countries as diverse as Greece and Dubai have been buying time, not fiscal health.

Built on financial quicksand, Dubai (an Arab Las-Vegas-without-the-fun) is in collapse (predicted by this column years ago). Quasi-governmental corporations backed by the ruling family are at least $80 billion in the hole. The recent transfusion of 10 billion bucks from Abu Dhabi merely applied a Band-Aid to a hemorrhage. Dubai can't pay.

Eighty billion in bad debts may not sound high in President Obama's Washington, but Dubai's just a city pretending to be a country. It produces nothing. There's no inherent wealth. It Madoff-ed the world with extravagant brochures and nutty projects.

Speculators went nuts, proclaiming Dubai the city of the future, where wealth could only beget more wealth. The frenzy produced the craziest real-estate bubble in the world, as gullible investors mistook a couple of shopping malls for a civilization.

Dubai's approach to development mirrored that of much of the Arab world, expecting money to do all of the work. But Dubai's ambitions weren't backed by oil wealth, only vast development schemes that never should have fooled a single investor. But investors wanted to be fooled.

Speculation hasn't been the only villain generating financial ruin around the world. Another villain has been exploding entitlements. Several European states (plus my favorite foreign country, California) have been downed by a self-inflicted one-two punch. ...

Rest here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What'cha doing, Mr. Policeman?

Tonight's inquisitive kitty:

Obama signs immunity order for Interpol agents

More Hope and Change from a couple of weeks ago, from our foreigner-lovin', America-hatin' Marxist-in-Chief:
Last Thursday, December 17, 2009, The White House released an Executive Order "Amending Executive Order 12425." It grants INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization) a new level of full diplomatic immunity afforded to foreign embassies and select other "International Organizations" as set forth in the United States International Organizations Immunities Act of 1945.

By removing language from President Reagan's 1983 Executive Order 12425, this international law enforcement body now operates - now operates - on American soil beyond the reach of our own top law enforcement arm, the FBI, and is immune from Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests.


In light of what we know and can observe, it is our logical conclusion that President Obama's Executive Order amending President Ronald Reagans' 1983 EO 12425 and placing INTERPOL above the United States Constitution and beyond the legal reach of our own top law enforcement is a precursor to more damaging moves.

The pre-requisite conditions regarding the Iraq withdrawal and the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility closure will continue their course. meanwhile, the next move from President Obama is likely an attempt to dissolve the agreements made between President Bush and other states preventing them from turning over American military forces to the ICC (via INTERPOL) for war crimes or any other prosecutions.

When the paths on the road map converge - Iraq withdrawal, Guantánamo closure, perceived American image improved internationally, and an empowered INTERPOL in the United States - it is probable that President Barack Obama will once again make America a signatory to the International Criminal Court. It will be a move that surrenders American sovereignty to an international body whose INTERPOL enforcement arm has already been elevated above the Constitution and American domestic law enforcement.

For an added and disturbing wrinkle, INTERPOL's central operations office in the United States is within our own Justice Department offices. They are American law enforcement officers working under the aegis of INTERPOL within our own Justice Department. That they now operate with full diplomatic immunity and with "inviolable archives" from within our own buildings should send red flags soaring into the clouds. ...

Read the whole thing here. So, to recap: foreign police agents operating on American soil are immune from prosecution for any misdeeds committed against American citizens.

Seems like if we wanted to have foreign agents, answerable only to politicians and bureaucrats in some far off foreign capital, operating on our soil with the ability to harass and abuse American citizens, we would have stayed part of the British Empire.

Williams: The U.S. has no way of avoiding a financial armageddon

Today's dose of economic analysis comes from economist John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics, interviewed by Eric King.

Listen to the interview here (about 30 minutes).

Monday, December 28, 2009

Guns, teachers, and self-defense

From that stalwart of the anti-gun mainstream media (but I repeat myself), the Boston Globe [hat tip to Tom B.], comes this letter to the editor from a self-described "progressive":
I AM a math teacher at Brockton High School, the site of a school shooting earlier this month.

Current school security procedures lock down school populations in the event of armed assault. Some advocate abandoning this practice as it holds everyone in place, allowing a shooter easily to find victims.

An alternative to lockdown is immediate exodus via announcement. Although this removes potential hostages and makes it nearly impossible for the shooter to acquire preselected targets, it unfairly rewards resourceful children who move to safety off-site more shrewdly and efficiently than others.

Schools should level playing fields, not intrinsically reward those more resourceful. A level barrel is fair to all fish.

Some propose overturning laws that made schools gun-free zones even for teachers who may be licensed to securely carry concealed firearms elsewhere. They argue that barring licensed-carry only ensures a defenseless, target-rich environment.

But as a progressive, I would sooner lay my child to rest than succumb to the belief that the use of a gun for self-defense is somehow not in itself a gun crime.


[emphasis added]

Read it here, then read the comments to the letter here. I can't figure out whether this is satire, as one friend (and a few commenters) has suggested, or whether Mr. Van Gorder is serious. Most of the commenters, however, appear to take the letter's author at face value, and quite a few agree with him. (This is the Boston Globe, so I suspect many of the commenters are based in the People's Commonwealth of Massachusetts.)

As one commenter points out, if we were to apply Mr. Van Gorder's logic (I use that term loosely) to school fires, then we should keep everyone in the building, rather than "unfairly reward[ing] resourceful children who move to safety off-site more shrewdly and efficiently than others." After all, "schools should level playing fields" for the flammable, "not intrinsically reward those more resourceful. A level barrel is fair to all fish." And students should burn equally, in the author's progressive Utopia. Equal immolation for all.

Of course, we'll probably also have to create "nomex-free" zones in our schools to ensure that no student gets an unfair fire-resistant garment advantage (the evil "Haberdasher's Loophole"). Another "progressive" idea whose time has come, no?

Who needs a corkscrew, anyway?

Tonight's unusual way to open a bottle of wine:

2010 Food crisis for dummies

And now back to our regularly scheduled gloom and doom. :)

From Market Skeptics' Eric deCarbonnel, who makes the case for a major food crisis next year:
If you read any economic, financial, or political analysis for 2010 that doesn’t mention the food shortage looming next year, throw it in the trash, as it is worthless. There is overwhelming, undeniable evidence that the world will run out of food next year. When this happens, the resulting triple digit food inflation will lead panicking central banks around the world to dump their foreign reserves to appreciate their currencies and lower the cost of food imports, causing the collapse of the dollar, the treasury market, derivative markets, and the global financial system. The US will experience economic disintegration.

The 2010 Food Crisis Means Financial Armageddon

Over the last two years, the world has faced a series of unprecedented financial crises: the collapse of the housing market, the freezing of the credit markets, the failure of Wall Street brokerage firms (Bear Stearns/Lehman Brothers), the failure of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the failure of AIG, Iceland’s economic collapse, the bankruptcy of the major auto manufacturers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler), etc… In the face of all these challenges, the demise of the dollar, derivative markets, and the modern international system of credit has been repeatedly forecasted and feared. However, all these doomsday scenarios have so far been proved false, and, despite tremendous chaos and losses, the global financial system has held together.

The 2010 Food Crisis is different. It is THE CRISIS. The one that makes all doomsday scenarios come true. The government bailouts and central bank interventions, which have held the financial world together during the last two years, will be powerless to prevent the 2010 Food Crisis from bringing the global financial system to its knees.

Financial crisis will kick into high gear

So far the crisis has been driven by the slow and steady increase in defaults on mortgages and other loans. This is about to change. What will drive the financial crisis in 2010 will be panic about food supplies and the dollar’s plunging value. Things will start moving fast.

Dynamics Behind 2010 Food Crisis

Early in 2009, the supply and demand in agricultural markets went badly out of balance. The world experienced a catastrophic fall in food production as a result of the financial crisis (low commodity prices and lack of credit) and adverse weather on a global scale. Meanwhile, China and other Asian exporters, in an effort to preserve their economic growth, were unleashing domestic consumption long constrained by inflation fears, and demand for raw materials, especially food staples, exploded as Chinese consumers worked their way towards American-style overconsumption, prodded on by a flood of cheap credit and easy loans from the government.

Normally food prices should have already shot higher months ago, leading to lower food consumption and bringing the global food supply/demand situation back into balance. This never happened because the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), instead of adjusting production estimates down to reflect decreased production, adjusted estimates upwards to match increasing demand from china. In this way, the USDA has brought supply and demand back into balance (on paper) and temporarily delayed a rise in food prices by ensuring a catastrophe in 2010. ...

Read it all here. Food for thought (pun intended). A longish post with lots of data tables and charts. Worth reading.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Movie quotes

Tonight's movie collage -- quotes from the American Film Institute's 100 years, 100 movie quotes list:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas bird

Tonight's culinary humor:

Friday, December 25, 2009

Musical interlude

Tonight's musical interlude - Christmas Canon Rock, by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra:

Merry Christmas!

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:1-14, from the King James Version

Wishing all of you a blessed and very Merry Christmas!

Here's a couple of songs to start your day of right:

First, Sarah McLachlan, doing her rendition of What Child is This?:

And here's the lovely Carrie Underwood, performing How Great Thou Art:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Musical interlude

Tonight's musical interlude -- O Holy Night, performed by Carrie Underwood:

Exposing the cast of ClimateGate

Via SamizData, comes this video of Britain's Lord Monckton on Climategate at the 2nd International Climate Conference last month:

Worth watching the whole 34 minutes. Think of the release of the ClimateGate data and emails as a Christmas present to the world, exposing the massive coordinated fraud perpetrated by the Global Warming crowd.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

US Airways Flight 1549 animation

Tonight's emergency landing animation - an animation of US Airways Flight 1549's Jan 19, 2009 ditching in the Hudson River:

From the video's description:
This animation is based on all currently available data concerning the US Airways Flight 1549 crash (Cactus 1549). Satellite imagery, elevation models and robust GIS mapping methods are utilized to create a vegetation model, terrain model and ground clutter (3D buildings). Of all available audio tracks, only two are used, La Guardia Tower and New York TRACON Departure controller position. Radar data as well as the onboard Flight Data Recorder are utilized in constructing the flightpath of the aircraft.

And another perspective:

The next "assault weapon" for Mayor Bloomberg to ban

Today's Christmas toy, "assault nerf" edition:

100 reasons why climate change is natural

From the the U.K. Daily Express:
HERE are the 100 reasons, released in a dossier issued by the European Foundation, why climate change is natural and not man-made:

1) There is “no real scientific proof” that the current warming is caused by the rise of greenhouse gases from man’s activity.

2) Man-made carbon dioxide emissions throughout human history constitute less than 0.00022 percent of the total naturally emitted from the mantle of the earth during geological history.

3) Warmer periods of the Earth’s history came around 800 years before rises in CO2 levels.

4) After World War II, there was a huge surge in recorded CO2 emissions but global temperatures fell for four decades after 1940. ...

Read the other 96 reasons here.

Survival trends for 2010

From Charles Hugh Smith:
Here are a few key trends which will gather momentum in 2010--trends drawn from the Survival+ analysis.

My purpose in writing Survival+ was to provide a coherent account (i.e. an integrated understanding) of the powerful trends which are working beneath the superficial surface of our economy and culture.

Survival+ explains why the status quo is doomed, and illuminates the mechanisms which doom it. It also describes "the way out"--we must each put our energy into constructing a parallel, transparent, self-organized, re-localized system which is entirely legal and entirely independent of the failing, doomed status quo which is stripmining the productive to enrich the public and private Elites (file under "Fall of the Empire, Roman and other").

Here are a few of the trends described in Survival+ which I anticipate will be gathering momentum in 2010.

1. Millions of productive citizens will opt out, voluntarily or involuntarily.
Millions of small business owners will get tired of paying taxes so thousands of Federal bureaucrats can "earn" $170,000 a year (and pile up benefits the private sector can only dream about) and make sure Goldman Sachs employees (the "doing God's work" CEO is only worth $250 million, poor guy) can divvy up $16 billion in ill-gotten gains.

While they aren't wealthy, many small business owners are comfortable because they scrimped and saved and sacrificed. So when they close their business because it's no longer worth the hassle, the guff, the taxes, the bureaucratic fees and paperwork, then they will survive. The closure of the business will deprive their employees of jobs and the local stripmining machinery (local government) of tax revenues--revenues which cannot be replaced.

Given the dominance of the financial sector, agribusiness, pharmaceuticals and a hundred other concentrations of capital and political power (cartels), then the individual citizen has literally no choice but to opt out.

Those who have worked like crazy to net $170,000 will no longer be willing to work that hard so they can pay absurdly high tax rates to support bureaucrats raking in $170,000 a year for going to pre-meetings (or whatever) and public-employee retirees double-dipping (drawing $100K+ pensions and bennies and getting rehired immediately on contract to do the same job they just left.)

No, thank you, we really don't need to work this hard to support you. We are tired of being serfs. The more you try to tax "the rich," the more "rich" people will opt out. ...

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fox, hunting

Tonight's fox-searching-for-dinner video, from PBS' Nature - Christmas in Yellowstone:

Stephen Halbrook podcast interview

From Dave Kopel at Volokh:
A fifty-three minute podcast interview with Stephen Halbrook. Over the last three decades, Halbrook has been the greatest legal champion of Second Amendment rights. As a scholar, as an attorney (with a 3–0 record in the Supreme Court), and as a public advocate, Halbrook has done tremendous work in saving the Second Amendment from nullification, and in putting the courts and the legal academy back on the track of recognizing the right to arms in the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. We talk about the broad scope of Halbrook’s career, and about McDonald v. Chicago, in which Halbrook is representing the National Rifle Association as a party “respondent in support of petitioner.”

Listen to the interview here.

New Gunsight Improves Marksmanship With Intuitive Aim, Says UAB Vision Scientist

From the University of Alabama, on one researcher's work on improving the humble iron gunsight:

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Vision Science Research Center investigator who also is an expert marksman has found a more intuitive way to aim a pistol.

Associate Professor Timothy Kraft, Ph.D., has developed a new gunsight design that relies on subconscious ability. Opti-sight, a UAB-protected innovation, updates a pistol-aiming device that has remained unchanged for more than a century. Opti-sight promises to reduce the time law enforcement, professional and amateur shooters need for target practice to improve marksmanship.

Opti-sight is a precision-milled half-triangle shape that replaces the traditional pistol gunsight. The design relies on subjective contours, an optics principle that explains how the subconscious mind fills in the blanks when the eye sees half of a familiar shape like a circle, square or triangle, Kraft says.

The rear opti-sight notch looks like an incomplete triangle sitting atop the gun barrel. When a shooter looks through the notch, the brain tells the eye where the missing triangle apex should appear, and that apex is the precise point of aim, Kraft says. "This triangular shape that I've created allows the brain to visualize concentric triangles whose imaginary apexes focus the shooter's attention on the exact target bullseye.

"Opti-sight makes shooting very intuitive by allowing gunsight alignment to become subconscious."

Marksmen, especially beginning shooters, will see improvements more quickly with opti-sight than a traditional gunsight, he says. ...

Article here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Musical interlude

Tonight's musical interlude - the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Wizards in Winter, set to lights:

Bitter bambi-lovers berate, but bluster blinds to benefits

From the Washington Post:
During a recent deer hunt in Southern Maryland, Blaise Higgs killed a doe and then took it to a butcher shop for dressing. After setting aside several pounds of venison for his family, he donated the rest to an organization that helps feed the hungry.

"A lot of people are having a difficult time putting food on the table, so if you can help them, why not?" said Higgs, 38, a resident of Mechanicsville and a hunter since he was 6.

In the long-running dispute with animal rights advocates over the ethics of deer hunting, Higgs and other sportsmen have found what they believe to be the moral high ground: stocking food banks and soup kitchens with their kills.

One day last week, about 50 people dined on venison chili at the Loaves & Fishes Soup Kitchen, which operates out of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Leonardtown.

"We call it 'Bambi chili,' " said Shirley Morton, a volunteer cook.

Higgs's bounty was distributed through Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, a national outreach ministry headquartered in Williamsport, Md. Steve White, a coordinator for the group, said participants in Maryland provided enough food for 497,800 meals between June 2008 and this past July.

Animal rights activists are not impressed.

"I find it offensive that people would try to justify immoral behavior by claiming that something good comes out of it," said Bruce Friedrich, a spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "They can't defend ruthlessly blowing away animals for fun, so they come up with these ancillary benefits." ...

Read it here. The closing quote sums it up:
Higgs donated 20 doe last season, most of them shot with his compound bow and three-blade arrows. Told that animal rights activists consider bowhunting especially cruel, Higgs replied, "How many hungry people do they feed?"

Somehow, I'll bet none of these so-called animal rights activists are going hungry this holiday season.

Guns permits surge in Massachusetts

From the Boston Globe:
The number of gun permits issued in Massachusetts surged by more than 15 percent over the past two years, reversing nearly a decade of steady declines and marking a pronounced departure for a state known for its antigun sentiment.

The magnitude of the rise, evident in nearly every corner of the state, surprised law enforcement officials, and gun advocates and opponents alike.

Some saw it as an echo of similar spikes across the country after President Obama’s election, when heavy gun sales were attributed to fears that he would impose strict new gun laws. But with more women and elderly residents signing up for gun classes in Massachusetts, many said the increase here has also been driven by worries about crime and a growing sense of vulnerability in the wake of the financial collapse and lingering fallout of the damaged economy.

“I think it’s a sign of the times,’’ said Mike Burchman, who teaches gun courses in Hop kinton, where the number of permits rose 25 percent. “There’s a general insecurity, and people are looking for personal protection. In the past two years, I’ve seen a real shift.’’

The increase in Class A permits - the largest and broadest category of gun license - amounted to a jump of more than 28,000 statewide to about 224,000 as of last month, according to data provided by the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

The number had previously been dropping, from about 239,000 in 2001 to 192,000 in 2007. Class A permits, commonly called “a license to carry,’’ are the only permits that allow individuals to carry concealed guns and own all types of legal firearms.

Among those who recently got a permit was Ryan Fairbanks, a 23-year-old National Guardsman from Haverhill. Guns were anathema in his childhood home, he said, but a few weeks ago he got a permit and bought a gun to protect himself.


Law enforcement officials said that, while the sharp increase in permits is unexpected, it does not portend any increase in gun violence.

“We’re concerned about criminals with guns, not law-abiding citizens,’’ said John A. Grossman, undersecretary of forensic science and technology for the state Office of Public Safety and Security. “It’s the illegal gun trafficking we’re really focused on.’’

Police chiefs and district attorneys echoed that, saying they see few crimes committed with legally licensed firearms. ...

Read it here. Even in Massachusetts, a state overrun with anti-gun liberals, ordinary folks can see the writing on the wall.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Going for a drive. Or a boat ride

Tonight's amphibious auto - the Water Car:

Yeah, that'll work ... or maybe not

From the Lone Star State, comes this news from Fort Hood:
Fort Hood officials announced Thursday a new command policy regarding registration requirements for privately-owned firearms was signed into effect Tuesday by Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, III Corps and Fort Hood commander.

The policy, and Fort Hood Regulation 190-11, requires all service members and their families living, residing or temporarily staying at Fort Hood to register any privately-owned firearms kept on post with the Directorate of Emergency Services, a Fort Hood press release states.

The announcement comes more than a month after the Nov. 5 massacre on post claimed the lives of 13 and injured more than 30 – victims were shot by a soldier using a privately-owned firearm.

The new policy details how soldiers, family members and even civilians must go about reporting privately-owned weapons being taken on post.

"Service members living in barracks or in post temporary housing must notify their immediate commander of the possession of POFs and keep the weapon in their respective unit arms room in accordance with Army Regulation 190-11 and Fort Hood Regulation 190-11," the policy reads.

Under the new policy, service members and their families living, residing or temporarily staying at Fort Hood are required to immediately notify DES of any "sale, purchase, trade, gift, exchange or any other action that changes the ownership or long-term possession of a POF kept on the installation."

Besides detailing the responsibilities of service members, the policy additionally states that "all persons, whether service member or civilian, who intend to transport a privately-owned firearm onto Fort Hood must first register that firearm with DES."

It goes on to state that when entering Fort Hood, all persons are required to declare to access control point personnel that they are bringing a privately-owned firearm onto the installation.

"POFs being transported onto Fort Hood will, at all times, be accompanied by post registration documentation and are subject to inspection," the policy states.

The announcement Thursday specified that the new policy is "punitive in nature" and applies to all III Corps and Fort Hood service members, major subordinate units, tenant activities and family members across Fort Hood. ...

Read it here. A ridiculous, utterly ineffective, yet entirely predictable policy response. Perhaps Fort Hood entrance gates should have signs requesting all mass murderers to please check in with base security before commencing their murderous rampages. Pretty please?

Nevada U.S. senate candidates on gun control

From David Codrea:
Regular readers are familiar with the gun rights questionnaire, designed to elicit unequivocal answers from candidates about exactly where they stand on the right to keep and bear arms. It's proven a useful tool at separating those with the political courage to be leaders from those who would instead rely on meaningless platitudes, and those who think they deserve power without having to make an account of themselves to gun owners.

We've used the questionnaire in a number of races throughout the Republic so far, but have given special focus to the 2010 Nevada contest for U.S. Senate.


Because polls show incumbent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is vulnerable to challenge. It would be a major victory to demonstrate that one of the most powerful political figures in the country can be defeated by an unequivocal gun rights supporter. ...

Read it here, with links to the candidate responses of those who have answered the questionnaire.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Musical interlude

Tonight's musical interlude -- Jingle Bells, the hard way:

Will 2010 be the next 1775?

So asks Coordinated Illumination, comparing the similarities of our current times to those that preceded the American Revolution:
The years 1765 and 1775 are interesting to ponder.
About Two-hundred and forty years ago. About 10 generations.

1765 was a year that was much like 2009. The majority of Americans “woke-up” to the realization that their government had become tyrants, obsessed with controlling them to control the products of their labor. Governments are instituted among men to secure the blessings of Liberty, not to enslave themselves.

1765 was the year that changed everything.
1765 Timeline

• March 22 The British Parliament passes the Stamp Act, which is the first direct tax levied from Great Britain on the American colonies.

• March 1765 Parliament passed the Quartering Act, as an Amendment to the Mutiny Act, which had to be renewed annually by Parliament. The Quartering Act required Colonies to quarter and provision British troops.

• August 26 In protest of the Stamp Act, Bostonians destroy home of lieutenant governor Thomas Hutchinson

• October 17 The Pennsylvania Gazette reports that a Mr. McCullough, the Distributor of Stamps for the Royal Colony of North Carolina, has resigned his post in protest of the Stamp Act. A Dr. Huston is appointed to the position.

• November 1 The Stamp Act goes into effect in the 13 colonies, in order to help pay for British military operations in North America.

• December 12 The Pennsylvania Gazette reports that Dr. Huston, the recently instated Distributor of Stamps for the Royal Colony of North Carolina, has resigned his post in protest of the Stamp Act.

Like 2009, 1765 was a year that transformed America.

Some bureaucrats resigned, but there were plenty of quislings to take their place. ...

Read the rest here. As the old Chinese curse goes, "May you live in interesting times." We indeed live in interesting times, and they may get a whole lot more interesting in the coming years.

Friday, December 18, 2009

They call her Slingshot Girl

Tonight's fun-with-bungees video:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rube Goldberg would have loved it

Tonight's secret knock lock:

So long, US Dollar, it was nice knowin' ya

From Karl Denninger, on the increasing probability that the US Dollar will lose its status as the world's reserve currency, and the effect of that loss [all emphasis in original article]:
... Today's lesson in falsity is the announcement, long rumored, by the Gulf States that they will be forming a common currency, breaking the formal and informal dollar pegs that have controlled the price of oil and kept the petro-dollar recycling mill operating, allowing The United States to force our inflationary policies down the Arabs' throats.
“The Gulf monetary union pact has come into effect,” said Kuwait’s finance minister, Mustafa al-Shamali, speaking at a Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) summit in Kuwait.

The move will give the hyper-rich club of oil exporters a petro-currency of their own, greatly increasing their influence in the global exchange and capital markets and potentially displacing the US dollar as the pricing currency for oil contracts. Between them they amount to regional superpower with a GDP of $1.2 trillion (£739bn), some 40pc of the world’s proven oil reserves, and financial clout equal to that of China.

Potentially displacing my tailfeathers. That displacement is now assured.

Oh, and it doesn't stop with just money either:
The GCC also agreed to create a joint military strike force – akin to the EU’s rapid reaction force – to tackle threats such as the incursion of Yemeni Shiite rebels into Saudi territory earlier this year.

They nevertheless repeated on Tuesday that “any military action against Iran” by Western powers would be unacceptable.

Well there you have it.

China will be next with a Pan-Asian common currency and exchange system. The rumblings have been coming from there too, and they'll be followed by action - if for no other reason than that with the unpegging of oil from the dollar there is no longer any reason for China to continue to maintain a dollar hegemony of its own, and in fact doing so could be extremely damaging to China's economy.

Bernanke is entirely responsible for this. By encouraging the bubble economy during Greenspan's time in The Fed (Bernanke was the chief agitator for 1% interest rates - and holding them too low during the early part of the 2000s) and trying to restart the bubble economy this time around through both ZIRP and intentional distortions through the credit markets, shielding those who made bad decisions while cramming the inflationary pressures down the throat of trading partners, Bernanke has guaranteed the loss of global reserve currency status for The Dollar. ...

Read it all here.

California sheriff supports armed citizens

From the Fresno Bee:
The best gift for a law-abiding citizen this Christmas might be a concealed-weapons permit.

Even though Fresno police always are putting out press releases that claim crime is down, the city doesn't feel safe. Nor does it appear safe. Not on my side of town, at least. Not south of McKinley Avenue.

Look, there was a time when I believed that more guns led to more violence.

Now, in my gut, I have to agree with Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims. She says that a society is safer when responsible people bear arms.

"I think it's a good idea to keep the bad guys guessing so that they never know when they're coming up against a citizen who is carrying," Mims says.

Under California law, each sheriff can issue a concealed-weapons permit to anyone with a clean record who has "good cause." Some sheriffs are stingy with permits. Others, such as Mims, believe the permits should go to any eligible person.

For Mims, " 'Good cause' is, I can't put a deputy sheriff with every single citizen." ...

Read it here. According to the article, Fresno County under Sheriff Mims now accounts for almost 10% of all CCW permits in California, and the sheriff reportedly carries permit applications in her car to hand out to residents who want to apply for one. Now that's a pretty pro-self defense sheriff. And in California, no less.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sure footed

Tonight's balancing act, mountain goat and monkey edition:

That's pretty incredible balance.

IANSA and the UN want you disarmed

From NRA News:

Illinois gubernatorial candidates on gun control

From the anti-gun mid-western hellhole, better known as Illinois:
The Associated Press recently asked candidates for Illinois governor questions about gun-control legislation.

Here are highlights of their answers:

QUESTION: "Would you sign or veto legislation banning the sale and possession of semiautomatic assault-style weapons in Illinois?"


QUESTION: "Would you sign or veto legislation allowing concealed-carry for handguns?"

Article here, with each candidate's response. With the exception of a couple of Republican candidates responses, all the rest -- Republicans, Democrats, and Green party -- appear to suck. If you have the misfortune to live in Illinois, you might want to take a gander at their responses.

The armed Swiss

Today's citizen militia video, on the armed Swiss (the narrator appears ignorant of guns, so disregard the Sig 550's "designed to destroy anything standing within its 400 meter trajectory" description):

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Odd Couple, animal edition

Tonight's animal odd couple:

Obama's big sellout

From Left-leaning Rolling Stone, comes this article by Matt Taibbi on Obama's economic team:
Barack Obama ran for president as a man of the people, standing up to Wall Street as the global economy melted down in that fateful fall of 2008. He pushed a tax plan to soak the rich, ripped NAFTA for hurting the middle class and tore into John McCain for supporting a bankruptcy bill that sided with wealthy bankers "at the expense of hardworking Americans." Obama may not have run to the left of Samuel Gompers or Cesar Chavez, but it's not like you saw him on the campaign trail flanked by bankers from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. What inspired supporters who pushed him to his historic win was the sense that a genuine outsider was finally breaking into an exclusive club, that walls were being torn down, that things were, for lack of a better or more specific term, changing.

Then he got elected.

What's taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.

How could Obama let this happen? Is he just a rookie in the political big leagues, hoodwinked by Beltway old-timers? Or is the vacillating, ineffectual servant of banking interests we've been seeing on TV this fall who Obama really is?

Whatever the president's real motives are, the extensive series of loophole-rich financial "reforms" that the Democrats are currently pushing may ultimately do more harm than good. In fact, some parts of the new reforms border on insanity, threatening to vastly amplify Wall Street's political power by institutionalizing the taxpayer's role as a welfare provider for the financial-services industry. At one point in the debate, Obama's top economic advisers demanded the power to award future bailouts without even going to Congress for approval — and without providing taxpayers a single dime in equity on the deals.

How did we get here? It started just moments after the election — and almost nobody noticed. ...

Read the rest here. Taibbi feels suckered by the HopeyChanger-in-Chief. Boo hoo. As Bruce Willis said in Die Hard, "Welcome to the party, pal!"

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Wooden Mirror

Tonight's interactive art - Daniel Rozin's wooden mirror project:


Not exactly scraping by

At least if you work for the FedGov. From Mish comes this USA Today article, on the Hope and Change gravy train for federal government employees:
The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal salary data.

Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months — and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.

Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.

The highest-paid federal employees are doing best of all on salary increases. Defense Department civilian employees earning $150,000 or more increased from 1,868 in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009, the most recent figure available.

When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000.

The trend to six-figure salaries is occurring throughout the federal government, in agencies big and small, high-tech and low-tech. The primary cause: substantial pay raises and new salary rules. [emphasis added] ...

So not only do we have massive expansion of the federal government, we have massive salaries to go along with all that hiring. According to the article, the average FedGov employee rakes in over $71K, while the average private sector employee gets less than $41K. That's ass backwards, ain't it, given that government doesn't produce a dime of wealth; they're a cost center, not a profit center. And remember, those figures don't include the generous pensions and benefits that FedGov employees get. So not only do the FedGovvies make more in pay, they have better pensions and benefits.

Meanwhile, the official (and likely understated) broad unemployment rate is over 17% and likely headed higher.

Think of Barack Obama as the anti-Robin Hood of his time: He robs from the poor, and gives to the rich.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How to eat a chicken wing

Tonight's dining skills video, chicken wing edition:

The day the dollar died, Parts V, VI, VII

Weekend reading from John Galt, the continuation of his speculative fincton series, The Day the Dollar Died:

Part V: “A New Day of Economic Justice for All”

Part VI: “Pass Me the Butter and Blueberry Syrup, Please”

Part VII: Security for Liberty for All

See this post for links to Parts I through IV.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Mom Song

Tonight's musical interlude - The Mom Song (sung to the tune of the William Tell Overture):

Your money, hard(ly) at work

Via Mish, comes this report (PDF) from Senators McCain and Coburn, entitled Stimulus Checkup, on the 100 latest ways the administration is spending your hard-earned dollars. An example [footnotes omitted]:
12. Broadband Map That May be Obsolete by the Time It’s Complete ($350 million)

In just a few short years, taxpayers will be able to log onto a government website and find out if broadband services are available in their neighborhood. Using up to $350 million in stimulus funds, the Department of Commerce (DOC) will build a broadband inventory map, though some experts say it is too expensive and possibly unneeded. The DOC is awarding grants to organizations that will help create a national map of all areas with access to broadband Internet services. While individual telecommunications companies already have such information publicly available on their websites, this website would consolidate the information and provide users with a one-stop shop. The State of North Carolina already produces a statewide broadband map for $275,000 per year, which is a fraction of the amount to be spent by DOC. When asked about whether $350 million was a reasonable amount, Rory Altman at Altman, Vilandrie & Co., a broadband mapping consultant, said the amount was "ridiculous" and that his firm could produce a nationwide map for $3.5 million. ...

A website with a map of areas with broadband ... for a mere $350,000,000! What a bargain! And one private consultancy quoted in the report said they could do it for a mere $3,500,000, or one hundred times less than the government is spending. Must be that Keynesian "stimulus growth multiplier" they're always talking about. Although maybe they should rename it the growth demultiplier. Basically, one dollar of private investment produces the same amount as one hundred dollars of government spending. Sounds about right.

To be sure, not all the highly stimulative projects are so costly as simple government websites displaying information that's already publicly available from other sources. For example, the very next entry:
13. Grant to Fund Search for Fossils . . . In Argentina ($1.57 million)

Move over Indiana Jones! Penn State University is sending a team of researchers to search for plant fossils in Patagonia, Argentina using a $1.57 million stimulus grant from the National Science Foundation. Patagonia has been a hotbed of fossil research since remains of one of the largest dinosaurs, the Puertasaurus, was found there in 2006. Now, researchers are interested in unearthing fossils for plants that went extinct at the same time as the dinosaurs, hoping to understand the region's biodiversity, as well as "whether an ancient rainforest environment was present in Patagonia."

Clearly an astoundingly good use of American taxpayer dollars (at least in the mind of an Obama bureaucrat) -- those extinct dinosaurs and ancient rainforests can't study themselves, you know. And the "scientists" will no doubt be able to squeeze even more dollars from the American taxpayer by showing that, if only the dinosaurs had voted Democrat so many millions of years ago, they would be alive today and enjoying full social security benefits in that lush ancient rainforest, which will forever be preserved by the Dems' Cap-and-Trade plan.

Some stimulus projects, however, seek to find answers to the really important questions confronting our nation, such as
51. Study On Why Young Men Do Not Like Condoms ($221,355)

Indiana University professors received $221,355 in economic stimulus funds to study why young men do not like to wear condoms. The research will "advance our understanding of…the role of cognitive and affective processes and condom application skills in explaining problems with condom use in young, heterosexual adult men," and to create "education strategies tailored to the needs of individuals who have trouble using condoms effectively."

Seems like those professors don't know economic stimulus from erectile stimulus. But hey, you're paying for it, so what do they care! Although admittedly, at a paltry $220 grand, it's pretty much a drop of semen in the proverbial $787,000,000,000 stimulus bucket. That's the price you pay for electile dysfunction, America.

Read the report here to see some of the many stimulating ways our beloved government is spending your money. Your money, hardly at work.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Model model train

Tonight's model of a model train:

What's another trillion or two? Dems look to increase federal debt ceiling by $1.8 trillion

From Politico:
In a bold but risky year-end strategy, Democrats are preparing to raise the federal debt ceiling by as much as $1.8 trillion before New Year’s rather than have to face the issue again prior to the 2010 elections.

“We’ve incurred this debt. We have to pay our bills,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told POLITICO Wednesday. And the Maryland Democrat confirmed that the anticipated increase could be as high as $1.8 trillion — nearly twice what had been assumed in last spring’s budget resolution for the 2010 fiscal year.

The leadership is betting that it’s better for the party to take its lumps now rather than risk further votes over the coming year. But the enormity of the number could create its own dynamic, much as another debt ceiling fight in 1985 gave rise to the Gramm-Rudman deficit reduction act mandating across-the-board spending cuts nearly 25 years ago. ...

Read it here. A trillion is 1 followed by twelve zeros. Remember the zero part, because when the wizards in Washington are done, that'll be what the U.S. Dollar will be worth.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Name that car

Tonight's interactive quiz - Name that car.

Off to the reeducation camps, Minnesota edition

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune, via Ed Morrissey at Hotair:
Do you believe in the American dream -- the idea that in this country, hardworking people of every race, color and creed can get ahead on their own merits? If so, that belief may soon bar you from getting a license to teach in Minnesota public schools -- at least if you plan to get your teaching degree at the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus.

In a report compiled last summer, the Race, Culture, Class and Gender Task Group at the U's College of Education and Human Development recommended that aspiring teachers there must repudiate the notion of "the American Dream" in order to obtain the recommendation for licensure required by the Minnesota Board of Teaching. Instead, teacher candidates must embrace -- and be prepared to teach our state's kids -- the task force's own vision of America as an oppressive hellhole: racist, sexist and homophobic. [emphasis added]

Read it all here. Apparently, the task force believes that teachers must embrace race, class and gender identity politics in order to be effective teachers:
The report advocates making race, class and gender politics the "overarching framework" for all teaching courses at the U. It calls for evaluating future teachers in both coursework and practice teaching based on their willingness to fall into ideological lockstep.

The first step toward "cultural competence," says the task group, is for future teachers to recognize -- and confess -- their own bigotry. Anyone familiar with the reeducation camps of China's Cultural Revolution will recognize the modus operandi.

The task group recommends, for example, that prospective teachers be required to prepare an "autoethnography" report. They must describe their own prejudices and stereotypes, question their "cultural" motives for wishing to become teachers, and take a "cultural intelligence" assessment designed to ferret out their latent racism, classism and other "isms." They "earn points" for "demonstrating the ability to be self-critical." ...


The goal of these exercises, in the task group's words, is to ensure that "future teachers will be able to discuss their own histories and current thinking drawing on notions of white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression."

Future teachers must also recognize and denounce the fundamental injustices at the heart of American society, says the task group. From a historical perspective, they must "understand that ... many groups are typically not included" within America's "celebrated cultural identity," and that "such exclusion is frequently a result of dissimilarities in power and influence." In particular, aspiring teachers must be able "to explain how institutional racism works in schools." ...

Apparently, only the ideologically pure need apply for a teaching license in Minnesota. According to the article, the task force's report also has provisions for teacher reeducation and ongoing indoctrination.

As for actual subject matter expertise and competence in subjects like mathematics and science? Who knows -- I guess the task force puts that in the nice to have, but not absolutely necessary category.

Got homeschooling?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Selecting the right hymn

Tonight's humor:
A Baptist minister was completing his sermon on temperance. With great emphasis, he said, "If I had all the beer in the world, I’d take it and pour it into the river."

With even greater emphasis he said, "And if I had All the wine in the world, I’d take it and pour it into the river."

And then finally, shaking his fist in the air and in his best fire-and-brimstone voice, he said, "And if I had all the whiskey in the world, I’d take it and pour it into the river."

Sermon complete, he sat down.

The choir leader stood very cautiously and announced with a smile, nearly laughing, "For our closing song, let us sing Hymn 124, 'Shall We Gather at the River'."


Green acres: The next hot neighborhood

From the Wall Street Journal:
In June, 40-year-old Shane Dawley and his 36-year-old wife, Rhonda, uprooted themselves and their four boys from their suburban Atlanta rental home and bought an old five-acre farm in Ogdensburg, Wisc. Their goal: Flee the rat race and adopt a more self-reliant lifestyle amid the troubled economy.

While Mr. Dawley, who had worked at a parking garage, hasn't found a full-time job yet, he's been working on nearby farms learning new skills (one person paid him with an old John Deere tractor), and his family is raising chickens while learning to garden and hunt.

"Our generation has never seen anything like this," says Mr. Dawley of the economic downturn. "Fear sometimes is a good thing and will push you to do things you ordinarily wouldn't."

While urban and suburban real estate is still generally under pressure, the rural market is holding up better in many areas, thanks in part to buyers such as the Dawleys. Sometimes dubbed "ruralpolitans," these city and town dwellers are looking at land as their new safe investment, one they hope could prove more stable than their jobs and 401(k)s—and provide a better lifestyle.

Motivations can vary, but typically there are three groups: young people buying land as an asset or investment, with vague hopes to live on it someday; exurban commuters who have jobs in big towns or cities but want to escape the sprawl; and back-to-the-land types who want to dabble in hobby farming. While the 76 million-strong baby boomers eyeing retirement represent the largest ruralpolitan segment, they're being joined by a growing contingent of 20-to-early-40-somethings freshly imprinted by this recession's pain. ...

Read the rest here. The author, Wendy Bounds, has written a follow-up piece, From Versace to Chainsaws, on her own move from the big city to a more rural life.

But what about the planet?

From the UK Telegraph, on the incongruity of the participants of a "Global Warming" conference utilizing 1,200 carbon-spewing limos and 140 private jets to get around:
On a normal day, Majken Friss Jorgensen, managing director of Copenhagen's biggest limousine company, says her firm has twelve vehicles on the road. During the "summit to save the world", which opens here tomorrow, she will have 200.

"We thought they were not going to have many cars, due to it being a climate convention," she says. "But it seems that somebody last week looked at the weather report."

Ms Jorgensen reckons that between her and her rivals the total number of limos in Copenhagen next week has already broken the 1,200 barrier. The French alone rang up on Thursday and ordered another 42. "We haven't got enough limos in the country to fulfil the demand," she says. "We're having to drive them in hundreds of miles from Germany and Sweden."

And the total number of electric cars or hybrids among that number? "Five," says Ms Jorgensen. "The government has some alternative fuel cars but the rest will be petrol or diesel. We don't have any hybrids in Denmark, unfortunately, due to the extreme taxes on those cars. It makes no sense at all, but it's very Danish."

The airport says it is expecting up to 140 extra private jets during the peak period alone, so far over its capacity that the planes will have to fly off to regional airports – or to Sweden – to park, returning to Copenhagen to pick up their VIP passengers.

Article here. According to the conference organizers themselves, their little shindig will spew a sizable amount of carbon (not to mention a lot of hot air):
... According to the organisers, the eleven-day conference, including the participants' travel, will create a total of 41,000 tonnes of "carbon dioxide equivalent", equal to the amount produced over the same period by a city the size of Middlesbrough. [emphasis added]

Global Warming conference attendees, heal thyself! There is, notably, one freebie that the conference big wigs might, uh, perk up for:
And this being Scandinavia, even the prostitutes are doing their bit for the planet. Outraged by a council postcard urging delegates to "be sustainable, don't buy sex," the local sex workers' union – they have unions here – has announced that all its 1,400 members will give free intercourse to anyone with a climate conference delegate's pass. The term "carbon dating" just took on an entirely new meaning. [emphasis added]

I guess we can chalk that up to professional courtesy, although I suspect the local prostitutes are simply out of their league when it comes to screwing others.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I guess he likes shark fin soup too

Tonight's shark story from Down Under (where it's summertime):

Mumbai terror attack documentary

Today's film, an HBO documentary on the last November's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India (48 minutes long). The documentary includes audio of the terrorists' calls with their handlers in Pakistan, evidently recorded by the Indian intelligence services:

Killing Slaughterhouse

From Reason Magazine on the upcoming Chicago gun ban case, and the possibility that the Supreme Court will overturn its own 1873 Slaughterhouse Cases precedent as part of finding that the Second Amendment applies to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment's 'privileges or immunities' clause:
... As Damon Root explained at Reason back in February, getting rid of Slaughterhouse and restoring the 14th Amendment to its originally intended reach would do more than just make room for imposing Second Amendment restrictions on state governments: “The 14th Amendment was specifically designed and ratified to protect a sweepingly libertarian idea of self-ownership. That idea includes the right to acquire property, run a business, and buy and sell labor without unnecessary or improper interference by the government.”

And that’s exactly why Gura’s kill-Slaughterhouse move is so controversial. Some of the amici briefs in the case—meant, remember, to support his victory in McDonald—have even argued strenuously against the main means Gura is relying on to win.

Since, as Gura wrote in the brief, “In 1868, the ‘privileges’ and ‘immunities’ of American citizenship were popularly understood to include a broad array of pre-existent natural rights believed secured by all free governments, as well as the personal rights memorialized in the Bill of Rights,” some right-leaning legal scholars and organizations that want to vindicate the Second Amendment are afraid of a Court emboldened via the Privileges or Immunities Clause to do some serious thinking—and acting—on the basis of such a “broad array of pre-existent natural rights.” ...

Read the article here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Optical illusion

Tonight's optical illusion:

Well, at least they're starving healthy

From the Big Apple, comes another bitter dose of nanny's medicine:
When a small church comes to the Bowery Mission bearing fried chicken with trans fat, unwittingly breaking the law, they’re told “thank you.” Then workers quietly chuck the food, mission director Tom Bastile said. [emphasis added]

“It’s always hard for us to do,” Basile said. “We know we have to do it.” ...

That's because the city's law banning trans fat applies even to food donated to food banks and soup kitchens. So that fried chicken has to go into the dumpster, rather than hungry bellies. What a waste. Tell me again how smart and compassionate the New York City elites who support and/or pass laws like this are again?

[Via Ride Fast & Shoot Straight]

Are you really unemployed?

Today's explanation of government unemployment counting:

[Via Mish]

Life / death clock

From the California NRA affiliate, comes the Life / Death Clock, giving a statistical perspective of firearms versus other causes of death, as well as the number of lives saved by firearms (click on image below to view the live clock):

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Musical interlude -- Dancing Queen

Tonight's sing-along blast from the past -- Swedish group Abba's first performance of their hit Dancing Queen, for Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf on the eve of his wedding to Silvia Sommerlath on 18-Jun-1976. Enjoy!

Law enforcement trainers support self-defense for Chicagoans

The two major national organizations of law enforcement trainers, the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), joined by the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI), have filed an amicus brief in the Chicago gun ban case pending before the Supreme Court in support of the citizen's right to self-defense with firearms and against the Chicago gun ban.

The ILEETA/IALEFI brief, authored by noted Second Amendment advocate David Kopel, focuses on the failure of Chicago's draconian gun ban to reduce crime, and contains lots of tables and stats for the stats geeks. The amicus brief can be read here. As an item of trivia, the head of ILEETA, Ed Nowicki, is a retired Chicago cop.

Other signatories of the brief include the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, Texas Police Chiefs Association, Law Enforcement Alliance of America, Congress of Racial Equality, Claremont Institute, and Independence Institute, in addition to several professors and academics.

Notably, both ILEETA and IALEFI also supported the pro-individual rights side in last year's historic Supreme Court Heller case, which invalidated Washington, D.C.'s gun ban.

As a member of both ILEETA and IALEFI, I am quite pleased that they have once again joined the side of the citizenry, and individual human rights, over the tyranny of gun control and the tyrants who support citizen disarmament.

NBPA, SEIU's IBPO side with anti-gunners in Chicago gun ban case

From David Codrea, who has been exposing the various anti-gun groups who have signed the Brady Center's amicus brief against the people's right to self-defense in the Chicago gun ban case (McDonald v. Chicago) pending before the Supreme Court. The latest two anti-gun groups:

In Why do SEIU enforcers oppose you having guns?, Mr. Codrea examines the International Brotherhood of Police Officers (IBPO) anti-gun position:
... By their signing of the Brady brief, the IBPO is endorsing edicts forbidding the keeping and bearing of arms by any but the "Only Ones" as "reasonable." I'm sure by now those of you who have visited their site will have noticed they are part of a greater Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and may be wondering if the recent beating of a state worker at an SEIU meeting because he "wanted to expose alleged corruption within the union," and the earlier "smashing a black man on the cement and calling him n*****" at a town hall meeting may help explain why they might consider citizen disarmament to be reasonable--at least from the perspective of their self-interest . [links omitted] ...

And in Black police group endorses same anti-gun edicts imposed by slave owners, Mr. Codrea exposes the vile anti-gun position of the National Black Police Association (NBPA):
Here's the crux of what we need to know about them from their "Positions" page:
HANDGUN CONTROL. The NBPA supports national handgun legislation prohibiting further manufacturing of handguns, and limiting their sales, possession, and use. [emphasis added]

Ugh. Looks like the NBPA's fully on-board with serving the white massa's racist gun control agenda.

Obama's "Safe Schools" czar's recommended reading list for kids

From Gateway Pundit, comes this insanity [links omitted]:
Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings was the founder, and for many years, Executive Director of an organization called the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). GLSEN started essentially as Jennings’ personal project and grew to become the culmination of his life’s work. And he was chosen by President Obama to be the nation’s Safe Schools Czar primarily because he had founded and led GLSEN (scroll for bio).

GLSEN’s stated mission is to empower gay youth in the schools and to stop harassment by other students. It encourages the formation of Gay Student Alliances and condemns the use of hateful words. GLSEN also strives to influence the educational curriculum to include materials which the group believes will increase tolerance of gay students and decrease bullying. To that end, GLSEN maintains a recommended reading list of books that it claims “furthers our mission to ensure safe schools for all students.” In other words, these are the books that GLSEN’s directors think all kids should be reading: gay kids should read them to raise their self-esteem, and straight kids should read them in order to become more aware and tolerant and stop bullying gay kids. ...


Out of curiosity to see exactly what kind of books Kevin Jennings and his organization think American students should be reading in school, our team chose a handful at random from the over 100 titles on GLSEN’s grades 7-12 list, and began reading through.

What we discovered shocked us. We were flabbergasted. Rendered speechless.

We were unprepared for what we encountered. Book after book after book contained stories and anecdotes that weren’t merely X-rated and pornographic, but which featured explicit descriptions of sex acts between pre-schoolers; stories that seemed to promote and recommend child-adult sexual relationships; stories of public masturbation, anal sex in restrooms, affairs between students and teachers, five-year-olds playing sex games, semen flying through the air. One memoir even praised becoming a prostitute as a way to increase one’s self-esteem. Above all, the books seemed to have less to do with promoting tolerance than with an unabashed attempt to indoctrinate students into a hyper-sexualized worldview.

We knew that unless we carefully documented what we were reading, the public would have a hard time accepting it. Mere descriptions on our part could not convey the emotional gut reaction one gets when seeing what Kevin Jennings wants kids to read as school assignments. So we began scanning pages from each of the books, and then made exact transcriptions of the relevant passages on each page.

Are we exaggerating, or misconstruing quotes that could be interpreted a different way? No: Read the passages below and judge for yourself. There’s no wiggle room. The language is explicit, the intent clear. [emphasis added] ...

Read the whole sordid thing here [Note: sexually explicit language at link]. This is what the government's point man on "safe schools" wants to ram down the throats (or perhaps up the asses) of your children. One more reason to homeschool your kids if you possibly can.