Tonight's luminescent chemistry:
Sunday morning music - I think it's time for a little classical music. How about Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto? This performance is by Sayaka Shoji, performing last year during...
1 day ago
As Wall Street hangs on the question “Will Greece default?,” the author heads for riot-stricken Athens, and for the mysterious Vatopaidi monastery, which brought down the last government, laying bare the country’s economic insanity. But beyond a $1.2 trillion debt (roughly a quarter-million dollars for each working adult), there is a more frightening deficit. After systematically looting their own treasury, in a breathtaking binge of tax evasion, bribery, and creative accounting spurred on by Goldman Sachs, Greeks are sure of one thing: they can’t trust their fellow Greeks.Read it here.
(Father Arsenios at the Vatopaidi monastery, overlooking the Aegean Sea, in Mount Athos, Greece. He is considered by many to be Vatopaidi’s C.F.O., “the real brains of the operation.”. Photo: Vanity Fair / Jonas Fredwall Karlsson)
After an hour on a plane, two in a taxi, three on a decrepit ferry, and then four more on buses driven madly along the tops of sheer cliffs by Greeks on cell phones, I rolled up to the front door of the vast and remote monastery. The spit of land poking into the Aegean Sea felt like the end of the earth, and just as silent. It was late afternoon, and the monks were either praying or napping, but one remained on duty at the guard booth, to greet visitors. He guided me along with seven Greek pilgrims to an ancient dormitory, beautifully restored, where two more solicitous monks offered ouzo, pastries, and keys to cells. I sensed something missing, and then realized: no one had asked for a credit card. The monastery was not merely efficient but free. One of the monks then said the next event would be the church service: Vespers. The next event, it will emerge, will almost always be a church service. There were 37 different chapels inside the monastery’s walls; finding the service is going to be like finding Waldo, I thought.
“Which church?” I asked the monk.
“Just follow the monks after they rise,” he said. Then he looked me up and down more closely. He wore an impossibly long and wild black beard, long black robes, a monk’s cap, and prayer beads. I wore white running shoes, light khakis, a mauve Brooks Brothers shirt, and carried a plastic laundry bag that said eagles palace hotel in giant letters on the side. “Why have you come?” he asked. ...
Range Up to 30 milesEstimated Retail Cost $3,500
Max Speed 25 mph
Recharge Time LiFePo4 1 ½ hours
Tire Diameter 25
Weight of Bike 125 lbs.
Footprint 16 x 34
Max Hill Incline 30%
Max Rider Weight 250lbs
Turning Radius Zero to 3 ft.
Caught in a disaster? You'd better hope you're wearing the Emergency Bra. Simply unsnap the bright red bra, separate the cups, and slip it over your head -- one cup for you, and one for your friend.
Dr. Elena Bodnar won an Ignoble Award for the invention last year, an annual tribute to scientific research that on the surface seems goofy but is often surprisingly practical. And now Bodnar has brought the eBra to the public; purchase one online for just $29.95.
"The goal of any emergency respiratory device is to achieve tight fixation and full coverage. Luckily, the wonderful design of the bra is already in the shape of a face mask and so with the addition of a few design features, the Emergency Bra enhances the efficiency of minimizing contaminated bypass air flow," explains the eBra website.
Take this no-name pastor from an obscure church who was threatening to burn the Koran. He didn’t burn any buildings or women and children. He didn’t even burn a book. He hadn’t actually laid a finger on a Koran, and yet the mere suggestion that he might do so prompted the President of the United States to denounce him, and the Secretary of State, and the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, various G7 leaders, and golly, even Angelina Jolie. President Obama has never said a word about honor killings of Muslim women. Secretary Clinton has never said a word about female genital mutilation. General Petraeus has never said a word about the rampant buggery of pre-pubescent boys by Pushtun men in Kandahar. But let an obscure man in Florida so much as raise the possibility that he might disrespect a book – an inanimate object – and the most powerful figures in the western world feel they have to weigh in.Read it all here.
Aside from all that, this obscure church’s website has been shut down, its insurance policy has been canceled, its mortgage has been called in by its bankers. Why? As Diana West wrote, why was it necessary or even seemly to make this pastor a non-person? Another one of Obama's famous "teaching moments"? In this case teaching us that Islamic law now applies to all? Only a couple of weeks ago, the President, at his most condescendingly ineffectual, presumed to lecture his moronic subjects about the First Amendment rights of Imam Rauf. Where's the condescending lecture on Pastor Jones' First Amendment rights?
When someone destroys a bible, US government officials don’t line up to attack him. President Obama bowed lower than a fawning maitre d’ before the King of Saudi Arabia, a man whose regime destroys bibles as a matter of state policy, and a man whose depraved religious police forces schoolgirls fleeing from a burning building back into the flames to die because they’d committed the sin of trying to escape without wearing their head scarves. If you show a representation of Mohammed, European commissioners and foreign ministers line up to denounce you. If you show a representation of Jesus Christ immersed in your own urine, you get a government grant for producing a widely admired work of art. Likewise, if you write a play about Jesus having gay sex with Judas Iscariot.
So just to clarify the ground rules, if you insult Christ, the media report the issue as freedom of expression: A healthy society has to have bold, brave, transgressive artists willing to question and challenge our assumptions, etc. But, if it’s Mohammed, the issue is no longer freedom of expression but the need for "respect" and "sensitivity" toward Islam, and all those bold brave transgressive artists don’t have a thing to say about it. ...
George Orwell said, "There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them." What follows is my beginning of a list of ideas that some very intelligent people seem to believe.Read the rest here. Good stuff.
The air should be taxed. More precisely, what every animal on earth exhales and what every plant on earth inhales can and should be taxed.
President Bush was bad for the economy because he spent too much. President Obama is helping the economy by spending a lot.
A jury is better informed if evidence is withheld from it.
The Boy Scouts are wrong for having policies that inhibit pedophilia. The Catholic Church was wrong for not having policies that inhibit pedophilia.
An economy in which government accounts for about 40% of economic activity, which owns a similar percentage of all land, and which enforces a stack of regulations the size of 64 Bibles (or 30 New Deals) is considered a radical laissez-faire free market. ...
William Howell, the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, and I have an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal making the case for a constitutional amendment giving 2/3 of state legislatures the power to repeal any federal law or regulation. Here is the wording of the Repeal Amendment:Read the rest here. Not a bad idea, although if we hadn't passed the 17th Amendment (that implemented popular election of senators), we probably wouldn't need such a thing. Perhaps we could repeal the 17th Amendment and pass this "Repeal Amendment". Of course, we'll probably have to fight and win a civil war against the FedGov and the far Left socialist states first, because the ruling class elites won't give up their ill-gotten power without a fight. While we're wishing for the sky, we might as well add a term limits amendment.
“Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed.”
As we explain:
At present, the only way for states to contest a federal law or regulation is to bring a constitutional challenge in federal court or seek an amendment to the Constitution. A state repeal power provides a targeted way to reverse particular congressional acts and administrative regulations without relying on federal judges or permanently amending the text of the Constitution to correct a specific abuse.
The Repeal Amendment should not be confused with the power to “nullify” unconstitutional laws possessed by federal courts. Unlike nullification, a repeal power allows two-thirds of the states to reject a federal law for policy reasons that are irrelevant to constitutional concerns. In this sense, a state repeal power is more like the president’s veto power.
This amendment reflects confidence in the collective wisdom of the men and women from diverse backgrounds, and elected by diverse constituencies, who comprise the modern legislatures of two-thirds of the states. Put another way, it allows thousands of democratically elected representatives outside the Beltway to check the will of 535 elected representatives in Washington, D.C.
Congress could re-enact a repealed measure if it really feels that two-thirds of state legislatures are out of touch with popular sentiment. And congressional re-enactment would require merely a simple majority. In effect, with repeal power the states could force Congress to take a second look at a controversial law.
You may have noticed that Molly Norris' comic is not in the paper this week. That's because there is no more Molly.Article here. Just remember, boys and girls, that Islam is a Religion of Peace, because if you say or suggest otherwise, they'll kill you.
The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, "going ghost": moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity. She will no longer be publishing cartoons in our paper or in City Arts magazine, where she has been a regular contributor. She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program—except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab. It's all because of the appalling fatwa issued against her this summer, following her infamous "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" cartoon. ...
Since we seem now to be ruled during this administration by former professors, here is a rant about what I have learned of the university.Read the rest here.
Looking back at forty years…
I have some experience in academia: I spent 3 years at UC Santa Cruz, graduating in classics, two more, graduate and undergraduate, in formal study in Athens, at the College Year in Athens and the American School of Classical Studies, four at Stanford University for a PhD in classics, and then a 21-year stint as a professor at California State University Fresno.
I farmed before, during, and after the university tenures. I can’t count my current life at the Hoover Institution or my month of teaching each year at Hillsdale College as quite the same experience. Both, after all, are aberrant academic institutions — in the sense that the faculties and mission of these institutions resemble pretty much those of America off campus. (I have never met more sane people than at both places.)
The farm and the life with it were great gifts from my ancestors. Almost every weekend as an undergraduate and graduate student, and then nightly as a classics professor, I returned to the farm. People in the environs there were not hostile to learning; they just assumed that being a professor or writer was, and should be, not any different from welding or tractor driving.
Living in rural Selma was a sort of vaccination against the academic virus of self-importance and collective timidity. One must be somewhat self-reliant when bare vines somehow in ten months must pay for diapers and formula, when so much — weather, pests, markets, neighbors, intruders — conspire to prevent that. Fairly or not, I always admired a guy who could feed his family from 60 acres of tree-fruit (I could not) — and especially a lot more than I did an English professor, at least the sort I met over the last forty years.
So what did I learn in the university? I’ll try to be a bit less specific than I was in Who Killed Homer? written over a decade ago.
Lies, lies, and more lies
First was the false knowledge — odd for an institution devoted to free inquiry. The university runs like a 13th-century church in which the heliocentric maverick is a mortal sinner. So too on campus the Rosenbergs never spied. Alger Hiss was a martyr. Mao killed only a few who needed killing (see Anita Dunn on that one). ...
In 1965, in a noble attempt to help the rest of us understand Australians, Alistair Morrison published Let Stalk Strine, a glossary of terms used Down Under:
air fridge: average
dismal guernsey: decimal currency
egg nishner: air conditioner
garbler mince: a couple of minutes
marmon dead: Mom and Dad
rise up lides: razor blades
sag rapes: sour grapes
split nair dyke: splitting headache
tiger look: take a look
“Aorta mica laura genst all these cars cummer ninner Sinny. Aorta have more buses. An aorta put more seats innem so you doan tefter stan aller toym — you carn tardly move innem air so crairded.”
The book went through 17 impressions in one year, a sign the problem had gotten completely out of hand. Just a few months before it appeared, the English author Monica Dickens had been signing copies of her latest book in a Sydney shop when a woman handed her a copy and said, “Emma Chisit.” Dickens inscribed the volume “To Emma Chisit” and handed it back. “No,” said the woman, leaning forward: “Emma Chisit?”
NASHUA, N.H. -- Nashua police are crediting an alert off-duty police officer who heard fireworks with cracking a burglary ring that targeted homes known to be empty because of Facebook postings.Read the rest here. A good reminder to be careful what you share online, and to make sure your Facebooking, MySpaceing, blogging, and Twittering spouses, kids, relatives, friends, and neighbors don't broadcast to the whole (online) world your out-of-town / business / vacation plans. Especially if your precise home location is easily ascertainable.
Police said they recovered between $100,000 and $200,000 worth of stolen property as a result of the investigation.
Police said there were 50 home burglaries in the city in August. Investigators said the suspects used social networking sites such as Facebook to identify victims who posted online that they would not be home at a certain time. [emphasis added]
"Be careful of what you post on these social networking sites," said Capt. Ron Dickerson. "We know for a fact that some of these players, some of these criminals, were looking on these sites and identifying their targets through these social networking sites." ...
A man walks into a bar, and there’s a robot bartender. The robot says, “What will you have?”
The guy says, “Martini.”
The robot brings back the best martini ever and says to the man, “What’s your IQ?”
The guy says, “168.” The robot then proceeds to talk about physics, space exploration and medical technology.
The guy leaves, but he is curious ...
So he goes back into the bar.
The robot bartender says, “What will you have?”
The guy says, “Martini.”
Again, the robot makes a great martini gives it to the man and says, “What’s your IQ?”
The guy says, “100.” The robot then starts to talk about Nascar, Budweiser and John Deere tractors.
The guy leaves, but finds it very interesting, so he thinks he will try it one more time.
He goes back into the bar. The robot says, “What will you have?”
The guy says, “Martini,” and the robot brings him another great martini.
The robot then says, “What’s your IQ?”
The guy says, “Uh, about 50.”
The robot leans in real close and says, “So, you people still happy you voted for Obama?”