Sunday, January 31, 2010

A girl and her ball

Tonight's Rhythmic Gymnastics video - Boyanka Angelova performs at the 2008 European Championships in Turin:

Survival is a mom's job

So says The Survival Mom, interviewed by Fox News in Phoenix:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

That's nuts!

Tonight's optical illusion:

Cold water shock survival

From Cottage Life, comes this article on the effects of cold water immersion on the body:
The lake’s November chill arches my back, pries my mouth open, forces my eyes wide until, overhead, I see the pewter sky through a cloud of bubbles. A second ago, I was up there, on the dock. Now I’m below the surface, flailing in liquid that feels as thick as gelatin, surprised by the water filling my mouth. A small voice, distant and oddly detached, muses: Am I going to drown?

The answer comes a second later, when my PFD delivers me, spluttering and gasping, back to the surface. Thank God, I think, still troubled by the underwater voice. Now I’ve got to last another 10 minutes, in a lake that’s nearly ice-water cold...


What is cold water shock?

A sledgehammer blow that can cause drowning, trigger heart failure, or chill victims so rapidly they’re unable to swim, hang on to a rope, or pull themselves to safety.

Cold water has been claiming lives as long as we’ve ventured near it, but it’s only during the past few decades that scientists have solved an ancient mystery: Why does cold water kill so quickly? How do strong swimmers succumb in seconds or minutes—long before hypothermia can set in?

The answer is the “huge, huge shock to the system” that comes with sudden, unexpected immersion in cold water, says Stephen Cheung, holder of the Canada Research Chair for Environmental Ergonomics. Known around St. Catharines’ Brock University as Dr. Freeze, Cheung is his own lab rat, dunking himself in chilled water while wearing nothing more than swim trunks. “People worry about falling in cold water and dying from hypothermia, but with cold shock, you’re not in the water long enough for that,” he says. “You die from drowning.”

So that’s why I’m a sodden and chilled guinea pig in Lake Muskoka. To help Cottage Life’s readers understand the threat that lurks off their docks and beneath their boats, my editor (in his warm, dry office) says, “We want show, not tell.” ...





Read the whole thing here. The article notes this important point about treating the cold water victim once he or she is out of the water:
The danger's not over once you're out

In one of the Second World War’s cruel medical mysteries, severely chilled sailors and airmen would routinely collapse and die after being plucked from the sea. Only after the war did researchers discover the victims were being killed with kindness. As rescuers tried to warm their charges, urging them to get up, sitting them next to the stove, plying them with soup or tea, they shifted cold blood from the extremities to the body’s core, chilling the heart, triggering a dramatic fall in blood pressure, and bringing on heart failure.

Anyone exposed to prolonged cold, or suffering from hypothermia, needs to be warmed slowly, under medical supervision. If paramedics aren’t yet on the scene, lay the victim in a plastic sheet and a blanket or sleeping bag, bundled up, and let shivering do the warming.

I spent almost as long lying on the dock in a sleeping bag as I did in the lake, but after eight minutes or so I was able to shuffle to the dive team’s heated truck and change into dry clothes. In another hour, with a couple of cups of coffee, I was over the immediate chill. By the next morning, after a good night’s sleep, I felt close to my pre-immersion self. [emphasis added]...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Google's new gadget

Tonight's search engine cartoon:

Colorado, South Dakota Firearms Freedom bills introduced

From the Tenth Amendment Center:
Introduced in the State Senates of both Colorado and South Dakota last week is a bill known as the “Firearms Freedom Act.” If passed, the bill would make state law that “any firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in the state and that remains within the borders of the state is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.”

This now makes Firearms Freedom Acts already passed in Montana and Tennessee, and currently introduced in these 21 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.

According to Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association and author of the original bill that was introduced in Montana, “It’s likely that FFAs will be introduced soon in West Virginia, New Mexico, Idaho, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina and maybe elsewhere” ...

Read it here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Date Wars

Tonight's relationships video:

Secession and Football Fundamentals

From Russell D. Longcore comes this essay:
We are only two weeks away from the Super Bowl. After watching the Minnesota Vikings make mistake after mistake in Sunday’s Championship game, and give away the game to the New Orleans Saints*, I think back to my high school football experiences.

After an embarrassing loss like the Vikings had, our coach would have told us, “Boys, we’re going back to the basics and re-learn the fundamentals of football.”

The fundamentals of football are:

• blocking and tackling
• holding the football tightly and not fumbling the ball
• keep doing your job until the whistle blows
• score more points than the other team
• work as a team, not as individuals
• winning gets you more girls than losing

What could this lesson possibly have to do with state secession, you may ask?

The Secession War of 1776 pitted the English colonies against motherland England and King George. The Declaration of Independence declared the colonies as sovereign nations…as sovereign as England herself.

Soon after the colonial victory, the states ratified the Constitution, which instituted a very strict few duties for the new Federal Government that the states created, and retained all other power to the states and to the People.

Those are the fundamentals of the game.

Over time, the Federal team began doing things for which it had no power or authority. The People’s team began fumbling the ball…and the Federal team always recovered the fumble. The People’s team gave up yardage (sovereignty) on every series of downs. And the referees…the courts…kept throwing flags against the People’s team and hitting them with the penalties.

The game has ceased to be fun to play. The refs have left the field to the Fed team, and now the Feds play however they want. The Fed team makes up its own rules, and the game doesn’t even resemble the fundamentals. And insult above all insults, the Fed team tells the People that they have to keep playing and cannot leave the field.

The whole concept of state secession is to return to the fundamentals. No state would ever consider seceding unless the Federal Government that it helped to create was doing things it ought not do. The fundamentals require that the Federal Government operate within its Constitutional restrictions.

Nullification will not be able to be effective, since there is no American state with a Militia in place to enforce any nullification challenged by the Feds.

Then, you must factor in the reality that the US Constitution has no authority to bind any two persons in any way, and that no legal status exists between the People and the Federal Government. Read Lysander Spooner’s “No Treason.”

So, it is time for the People’s team to walk off the field and stop playing this no-win game. But to do so, seceding states had better revitalize their Militias first.

By the way…free men get more chicks than slaves. Lighten up, Francis!

Secession is the Hope For Mankind. Who will be first?

*Even though I was rooting for the old guy, Brett Favre (a Mississippi boy), the Saints are a Southern team, and the South is where my heart is. Geaux Saints!

DumpDC. Six Letters That Can Change History.

© Copyright 2010, Russell D. Longcore. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

As Mr. Longcore notes, better make sure your state has a robust Militia before you try this, boys and girls.

To save America, follow the Owner's Manual

Today's videos -- Richard Maybury and Jim Powell give us their take on the economy and the potential for civil unrest:

Part 1:




Part 2:




Part 3:




Part 4:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blackbird

Tonight's remote controlled aircraft - an RC model of the Cold War-era SR-71 "Blackbird" high altitude reconnaissance jet:

History Channel's "After Armageddon"

Today's video - the History Channel's After Armageddon show, a fictionalized examination and discussion of the effects of a global pandemic on society:

Part 1:




Part 2:




Part 3:




Part 4:




Part 5:




Part 6:




Part 7:




Part 8:




Part 9:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fast food flowchart

Tonight's where-should-I-eat flowchart, fast food edition (click chart to enlarge):



[From here]

Steyn: Too much of a bad thing

From the sardonic but witty Mark Steyn:
So what went wrong? According to Barack Obama, the problem is he overestimated you dumb rubes’ ability to appreciate what he’s been doing for you. “That I do think is a mistake of mine,” the president told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “I think the assumption was if I just focus on policy, if I just focus on this provision or that law or if we’re making a good rational decision here, then people will get it.”

But you schlubs aren’t that smart. You didn’t get it. And Barack Obama is determined to see that you do. So the president has decided that he needs to start “speaking directly to the American people.”

Wait, wait! Come back! Don’t all stampede for the hills! He only gave (according to CBS News’s Mark Knoller) 158 interviews and 411 speeches in his first year. That’s more than any previous president — and maybe more than all of them put together. But there may still be some show out there that didn’t get its exclusive Obama interview — I believe the top-rated Grain & Livestock Prices Report — 4 a.m. Update with Herb Torpormeister on WZZZ-AM Dead Buzzard Gulch Junction’s Newstalk Leader is still waiting to hear back from the White House.

But what will the president be saying in all these extra interviews? In that interview about how he hadn’t given enough interviews, he also explained to George Stephanopoulos what that wacky Massachusetts election was all about:

“The same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office,” said Obama. “People are angry and they’re frustrated, not just because of what’s happened in the last year or two years but what’s happened over the last eight years.”

Got it. People are so angry and frustrated at George W. Bush that they’re voting for Republicans. In Massachusetts. Boy, I can’t wait for that 159th interview.

Presumably, the president isn’t stupid enough actually to believe what he said. But it’s dispiriting to discover he’s stupid enough to think we’re stupid enough to believe it.

So who’s panting for that 412th speech? Not the American Left. As Paul Krugman, the New York Times’s “Conscience of a Liberal,” put it: “He Wasn’t The One We’ve Been Waiting For.”

Not the once-delirious Europeans, either. As the headline in Der Spiegel put it: “The World Bids Farewell to Obama.”

And not any beleaguered Democratic candidates trying to turn things around in volatile swing states like, er, Massachusetts. ...

Read the rest here.

Toothpicks too dangerous for diners, says U.K. restaurant

From the formerly Great Britain, an ever-increasingly emasculated parody of its former self:
The next time you dine out you might want to take your dental floss with you.

For it seems the toothpick has become the latest victim of the health and safety police - leaving disgruntled diners with food stuck between their molars.

Staff at a luxury hotel chain are refusing to provide customers with the post-meal dental sticks - because they are 'potentially dangerous'.

However, sharp metal cutlery on the table is - for now - still acceptable.

But when Mr Freeman asked the waiter for assistance, he was astonished by the response.

'He apologised but said he was not allowed to give me a toothpick for health and safety reasons,' said the 63-year-old. 'I asked him if he was joking, but he said it wasn't April 1 and there weren't any in the hotel.

'I told him it was nonsense and asked to speak to the manager for an explanation, indicating there were 14 very dangerous metal knives and forks on my table that had been unsupervised for at least two hours.

'The manager agreed it was ludicrous, but assured me there had been a directive from head office not to provide toothpicks because they are potentially dangerous.' ...

Read it here. I guess the Brits can call them "assault toothpicks" -- after all, you can think of toothpicks as miniature spears, right? And we know how dangerous those are.

Education board reverses expulsion for gun in truck

From California:
In the end, the case of a Willows teenager expelled for having hunting guns in his pickup truck parked next to campus didn't focus on gun rights.

It became a question of whether the authority of school officials to enforce the state's Education Code extended to the school fence – or a sidewalk's width beyond it.

On Friday, members of the Glenn County Board of Education drew the line at the gates of Willows High School.

They ruled that officials in the Willows Unified School District had exceeded their authority when they expelled Gary Tudesko – a 17-year-old with a history of disciplinary problems – for leaving two shotguns and ammunition in his truck parked a few feet from the school's tennis courts on a public street.

"The district governing board acted in excess of its jurisdiction to expel the Pupil," the board wrote in its decision. ...

Read it here.

Ron Paul on the economy

Today's video - Texas Congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul gives his own "State of the Republic" address:

Part 1:




Part 2:




Part 3:

Monday, January 25, 2010

What a "hoot" of a story

Tonight's lucky doggie story:

Record foreclosure filings on 2.8 million properties in 2009; foreclosures weigh on home appraisals

From RealtyTrac:
RealtyTrac® (www.realtytrac.com), the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, today released its Year-End 2009 Foreclosure Market Report™, which shows a total of 3,957,643 foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 2,824,674 U.S. properties in 2009, a 21 percent increase in total properties from 2008 and a 120 percent increase in total properties from 2007. The report also shows that 2.21 percent of all U.S. housing units (one in 45) received at least one foreclosure filing during the year, up from 1.84 percent in 2008, 1.03 percent in 2007 and 0.58 percent in 2006.

Foreclosure filings were reported on 349,519 U.S. properties in December, a 14 percent jump from the previous month and a 15 percent increase from December 2008 — when a similar monthly jump in foreclosure activity occurred. Despite the increase in December, foreclosure activity in the fourth quarter decreased 7 percent from the third quarter, although it was still up 18 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008.

“As bad as the 2009 numbers are, they probably would have been worse if not for legislative and industry-related delays in processing delinquent loans,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “After peaking in July with over 361,000 homes receiving a foreclosure notice, we saw four straight monthly decreases driven primarily by short-term factors: trial loan modifications, state legislation extending the foreclosure process and an overwhelming volume of inventory clogging the foreclosure pipeline.

“Despite all the delays, foreclosure activity still hit a record high for our report in 2009, capped off by a substantial increase in December,” Saccacio continued. “In the long term a massive supply of delinquent loans continues to loom over the housing market, and many of those delinquencies will end up in the foreclosure process in 2010 and beyond as lenders gradually work their way through the backlog.” ...

Read the rest here, with table showing foreclosures by state. And areas with high foreclosure rates are seeing that affect home appraisal values:
LOS ANGELES — It wasn't the first time that Katherine Scheri ruined a real-estate agent's day with a low property appraisal.

Scheri, a real-estate appraiser, had sized up a three-bedroom, two-bath house in Santa Ana, Calif., for $30,000 less than what the buyers offered to pay. A typical deal-killer for a seller.

The agent urged the lender to force Scheri to consider several other properties that could back up the original $310,000 sale price. Then he tried good old-fashioned guilt, telling Scheri her appraisal was going to ruin the buyers' shot at the American dream.

"That's what he laid on me," Scheri recalled. "And I said, 'Don't you care they could be potentially spending $30,000 too much for a house?' "

Across the country, agents and homebuilders are complaining too many appraisals are coming in low, scuttling deals.

The National Association of Realtors says nearly one in four of its members has reported clients losing a sale due to appraisals. The National Association of Home Builders, meanwhile, said low appraisals were sinking a quarter of all new home sales and argues it's not fair to compare distressed properties to brand-new homes.

And that gets to the heart of the problem.

Roughly 40 percent of all home sales this year were foreclosures or short sales, meaning the property sold for less than the mortgage. In some markets, like Las Vegas and Phoenix, they've hit more than 50 percent. ...

Expect to see more record numbers of foreclosures as all those option-ARMs reset, and the Banks run out of extend-and-pretend games and run out of time and places to hide their cooked books. Add in bank failures that will flush out and force more short sales and foreclosures, and increasing unemployment, and you have a fabulous recipe for another race to the bottom in real estate. Expect the FedGov to once again step in to try to delay the inevitable, thus making the eventual crash even worse.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A woman and her monkey

Tonight's comedy routine, ventriloquist Nina Conti and her monkey at the 2009 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala for Oxfam Australia [language warning]:

Signs to look for to identify the next economic plunge

Economist Giordano Bruno gives us his take on signs to look for to identify a possible economic collapse:
Many researchers, including those here at Neithercorp, have projected that the third and final stage of the economic collapse will begin sometime in 2010. Barring some kind of financial miracle, or the complete dissolution of the Federal Reserve, a snowballing implosion should become visible by the end of this year. Data indicates that the dollar and the Dow are running on nothing but false promises and fiat bailouts, and that this game is slowly winding down. The Fed cannot sustain its current rate of liquidity injections without raising the ire of foreign nations heavily invested in U.S. debt, especially when banks have refused to loosen their lending practices as promised, thereby hoarding all bailout funds made available to them and stifling any chance of a credit market recovery.

Understandably, an important question has arisen among those people who are trying to prepare for the event; When EXACTLY will the collapse occur?

Of course, we aren’t psychic, and narrowing down the final trigger to the exact day, or even the exact month, would be extremely difficult. However, what we can do is explain what signs to look for, how to look for them, and what dangers they foretell. Economics gives the appearance of a complex and confusing science, but most economic indicators taught in business schools are really hollow background noise, designed to do nothing more than make television investment analysts seem more intelligent than they really are. All we need to know are the fundamentals, the unchangeable concrete factors that all economies operate on, and how to tell when they are beginning to falter. The following list is composed of signs anyone with a little work and a little vigilance can keep track of, giving them an even greater edge in knowing when the house of cards is really about to topple ...

Read the rest here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wooden combination lock

Tonight's combination lock demonstration:

That's Loonie: Russia starts buying Canadian dollars

From the Financial Times:
Russia’s central bank announced on Wednesday that it had started buying Canadian dollars and securities in a bid to diversify its foreign exchange reserves.

Analysts said the move could be a sign of increased diversification of emerging market central bank assets away from the dollar and into investments denominated in other commodity-linked currencies, such as the Australian dollar.

Adam Cole at RBC Capital Markets said if taken in isolation, Russia’s announcement that it was buying Canadian dollars was not significant, but if it was part of a broader trend, then it was an important step.

“If it is a barometer for the activity of other central banks, then its is structurally positive for the currencies of countries like Canada and Australia that have a commodity bias in their economies,” he said.

Although not officially confirmed, traders said that other emerging market central banks, including some in Asia which hold large foreign exchange reserves, have also been active in the foreign exchange market in recent weeks buying both Canadian dollars and Australian dollars.

...

Alarmed at the plummeting value of the dollars in its holdings, Russia has been at the vanguard of countries calling for the US authorities to stem the fall of its currency. Last year, along with China, Russia urged the creation of a new supra-national currency to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

The dollar has fallen more than 12 per cent on a trade-weighted basis since March. Commodity-linked currencies have rallied strongly, however, with the Canadian dollar up 24 per cent against the US dollar over that period and the Australian dollar 40 per cent higher. [emphasis added] ...

Read it here. In less than 10 months, the US Dollar lost 12 percent of its value relative to other currencies.

The global debt bomb

From Forbes:
Kyle Bass has bet the house against Japan--his own house, that is. The Dallas hedge fund manager (no relation to the famous Bass family of Fort Worth) is so convinced the Japanese government's profligate spending will drive the nation to the brink of default that he financed his home with a five-year loan denominated in yen, which he hopes will be cheaper to pay back than dollars. Through his hedge fund, Hayman Advisors, Bass has also bought $6 million worth of securities that will jump in value if interest rates on ten-year Japanese government bonds, currently a minuscule 1.3%, rise to something more like ten-year Treasuries in the U.S. (a recent 3.4%). A former Bear Stearns trader, Bass turned $110 million into $700 million by betting against subprime debt in 2006. "Japan is the most asymmetric opportunity I have ever seen," he says, "way better than subprime."

Bass could be wrong on Japan. The island nation (and the world's second-largest economy) has defied skeptics for so long that experienced traders call betting against it "the widowmaker." But he may be right on the bigger picture. If 2008 was the year of the subprime meltdown, 2010, he thinks, will be the year entire nations start going broke.

The world has issued so much debt in the past two years fighting the Great Recession that paying it all back is going to be hell--for Americans, along with everybody else. Taxes will have to rise around the globe, hobbling job growth and economic recovery. Traders like Bass could make a lot of money betting against sovereign debt the way they shorted subprime loans at the peak of the housing bubble.

National governments will issue an estimated $4.5 trillion in debt this year, almost triple the average for mature economies over the preceding five years. The U.S. has allowed the total federal debt (including debt held by government agencies, like the Social Security fund) to balloon by 50% since 2006 to $12.3 trillion. The pain of repayment is not yet being felt, because interest rates are so low--close to 0% on short-term Treasury bills. Someday those rates are going to rise. Then the taxpayer will have the devil to pay. ...

Read it here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Short horror movie

Tonight's commercial, horror movie edition:

Supreme Court overturns more McCain-Feingold restrictions

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, overturning several campaign finance-related restrictions as violative of the First Amendment.

SCOTUSblog has good roundups of media reactions and commentary on the ruling here and here.

You can read the Court's opinion here.

Of note, I believe both the NRA and the ACLU had filed amicus briefs urging the Court to overturn the contested provisions.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A bird's eye view

Tonight's bird's eye view, courtesy of a camera-equipped Golden Eagle:

The family militia

From Michigan, via the U.K. Sun, comes this family profile:
Morgana, six, the youngest of the eight children, is as comfortable with a lethal .22 calibre rifle as she is with a Barbie doll.

Her sister Raven, nine, has her own .22 as well, bought for her when she was seven. It is in baby pink.

She explains proudly: "My dad says I'm becoming quite a good shot."


(Family day out ... relaxing with weapons. Photo: Chris Bott / Barcroft)

Dad is Lee Miracle, of Sterling Heights, Michigan. After the events of 9/11 Lee, his wife Katerina, 43, and their children aged from six to 17 are preparing for attacks from foreign invaders. They believe such readiness - including a house full of 25 FIREARMS - is their civic duty. [emphasis in original]

Top dog at the South East Michigan Volunteer Militia, 42-year-old Lee has schooled his military brood in advanced firearm training and also Ray Mears-style outdoors survival techniques.

The couple and their brood - Morgana, Raven, Elijah, ten, Caleb, 11, Cameron and Megan, both 13, Emily, 15, and 17-year-old Christian - meet hundreds of like-minded souls once a month on a farm to hone their skills against outside threats. ...

Read it here. A fairly straightforward profile, without too much hysterics (oooh, 25 guns! Yawn -- there are ten of them, so that averages less than three guns a person), although I'm sure the unprepared masses and the closed-minded will generate suitable quantities of hysteria all on their own.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

An eye for detail

Tonight's drawing from memory feat:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hope and Change comes to Massachusetts

Oh, oh. Massachusetts, that bluest of blue states, has elected its first Republican senator since 1972:
In a victory few thought possible just a month ago, Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley Tuesday in the race for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy -- a win that could grind President Obama's agenda to a halt and portend huge losses for Democrats in the November midterms.


(Photo: Fox News)

With 97 percent of precincts reporting, returns show Brown leading Coakley 52-47 percent, by a margin of 120,000 votes. Independent candidate Joseph Kennedy was pulling 1 percent.

The victory marks a stunning upset in a race thought to be safe for Democrats until Brown's campaign began to surge just weeks ago. And it has powerful ramifications for Obama's agenda.

The GOP state senator, once sworn in, will break the Democrats' 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in Washington. This creates problems for proposed legislation ranging from financial regulatory reform to cap-and-trade, but most immediately Brown's win sends Democrats into a scramble to pass health care reform before he arrives in Washington. Democrats were already weighing options for how to fast-track the bill before polls closed Tuesday. ...

Read it here. We'll see what games the Dems play to delay seating Mr. Brown, and whether they’ll try to push through their increasingly unpopular healthcare bill currently pending in Congress anyway. The Dems are already weighing options:
A top Senate Democrat for the first time Tuesday acknowledged that the party is prepared to deal with health care reform by using a controversial legislative tactic known as the "nuclear option."

With Republican Scott Brown seizing victory in the Massachusetts special election for U.S. Senate, Democrats are under pressure to quickly pass health care reform before he arrives -- since Brown will break the party's 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority.

Even before polls closed, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said "there are options to still pursue health care."

Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, outlined a combination of tactics to get what his party wants out of health care reform. ...

During Mr. Brown's victory speech, the crowd started spontaneously chanting "Yes we can! Yes we can!" at one point. Ouch -- I'm sure that smarts to all the committed lefties in the White House. Looks like a small spark of Hope and Change comes to the Bay State. Of course, a Republican from Massachusetts would probably be considered a bleeding-heart liberal Democrat in say, rural Georgia or Texas, or most other parts of the country outside the Northeast or West coast, for that matter.

Pizza fairness

Tonight's pizza slicing theorem, from the New Scientist:
LUNCH with a colleague from work should be a time to unwind - the most taxing task being to decide what to eat, drink and choose for dessert. For Rick Mabry and Paul Deiermann it has never been that simple. They can't think about sharing a pizza, for example, without falling headlong into the mathematics of how to slice it up. "We went to lunch together at least once a week," says Mabry, recalling the early 1990s when they were both at Louisiana State University, Shreveport. "One of us would bring a notebook, and we'd draw pictures while our food was getting cold."

The problem that bothered them was this. Suppose the harried waiter cuts the pizza off-centre, but with all the edge-to-edge cuts crossing at a single point, and with the same angle between adjacent cuts. The off-centre cuts mean the slices will not all be the same size, so if two people take turns to take neighbouring slices, will they get equal shares by the time they have gone right round the pizza - and if not, who will get more?


(click to enlarge)

Of course you could estimate the area of each slice, tot them all up and work out each person's total from that. But these guys are mathematicians, and so that wouldn't quite do. They wanted to be able to distil the problem down to a few general, provable rules that avoid exact calculations, and that work every time for any circular pizza.

As with many mathematical conundrums, the answer has arrived in stages - each looking at different possible cases of the problem. The easiest example to consider is when at least one cut passes plumb through the centre of the pizza. A quick sketch shows that the pieces then pair up on either side of the cut through the centre, and so can be divided evenly between the two diners, no matter how many cuts there are.

So far so good, but what if none of the cuts passes through the centre? For a pizza cut once, the answer is obvious by inspection: whoever eats the centre eats more. The case of a pizza cut twice, yielding four slices, shows the same result: the person who eats the slice that contains the centre gets the bigger portion. That turns out to be an anomaly to the three general rules that deal with greater numbers of cuts, which would emerge over subsequent years to form the complete pizza theorem.

The first proposes that if you cut a pizza through the chosen point with an even number of cuts more than 2, the pizza will be divided evenly between two diners who each take alternate slices. This side of the problem was first explored in 1967 by one L. J. Upton in Mathematics Magazine (vol 40, p 163). Upton didn't bother with two cuts: he asked readers to prove that in the case of four cuts (making eight slices) the diners can share the pizza equally. Next came the general solution for an even number of cuts greater than 4, which first turned up as an answer to Upton's challenge in 1968, with elementary algebraic calculations of the exact area of the different slices revealing that, again, the pizza is always divided equally between the two diners (Mathematics Magazine, vol 41, p 46).

With an odd number of cuts, things start to get more complicated. Here the pizza theorem says that if you cut the pizza with 3, 7, 11, 15... cuts, and no cut goes through the centre, then the person who gets the slice that includes the centre of the pizza eats more in total. If you use 5, 9, 13, 17... cuts, the person who gets the centre ends up with less (see diagram).

Rigorously proving this to be true, however, has been a tough nut to crack. So difficult, in fact, that Mabry and Deiermann have only just finalised a proof that covers all possible cases. ...

Read the rest here. The science of pizza slicing advances. :)

You're on your own

A couple of reports on the lawlessness, looting and violence going on in Haiti:
Aid groups in Port-au-Prince said the relief effort could be hampered by the deteriorating security situation as criminals and desperate locals fought for the scarce resources.

More than 3,500 US troops are due to arrive in the country by the end of the week to bolster around 3,000 police and international peacekeepers who were said to have been deployed to secure the airport, port and main buildings.

But charity workers said they had seen little evidence of the security measures and warned of widespread looting and fights breaking out over dwindling water supplies.

...

"All the policemen are busy rescuing and burying their own families," said tile factory owner Manuel Deheusch. "They don't have the time to patrol the streets."

With law enforcement stretched thin even before the earthquake and the UN's 9,000 peacekeepers distracted by the collapse of their headquarters and the loss of up to 100 staff, the country is ill-equipped to deal with major unrest.

A Boston-based medical charity said it had been trying to get the UN to secure a small area where its doctors could treat injured people only to be told that such a request was not a UN "priority".

Valmir Fachini, a spokesman for the Brazilian charity Viva Rio charity, said he had not seen a single UN peacekeepers on security patrol. [emphasis added] ...

Article here. As is typical, the UN is totally useless. And in a disaster, as we saw with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, lots of cops will be busy taking care of their own families.

And another report:
... Much like the days after Hurricane Katrina, looting has become a problem very quickly.

...

What made the situation that much more tense was sightings of gangs of young men with machetes. On Wednesday they were seen getting into stores and taking all the supplies they could carry. The armed men were seen marching up and down the streets with machetes raised and the competition among the gangs turned quite fierce.

Fights between gangs were seen on the streets. Machetes were flailing and it was impossible to predict what would happen next.

There was no sign of police or any kind of law and order. [emphasis added]

You're on your own. That's always been true, but sometimes the forgetful need a reminder. And those who put their faith in big government to protect them in a disaster will likely be sorely disappointed.

And note the study in contrasts between corrupt Haiti and the other half of the island it shares with the Dominican Republic:
It's easy to blame poverty for the magnitude of the devastation in Haiti this week, but poverty is the result of poor governance. The island of Hispaniola provides a useful comparative laboratory in this regard, like the Korean Peninsula or the two Germanys during the Cold War. Haiti is on the western side of the island, and the eastern two-thirds make up the Dominican Republic, a functioning democracy with a relatively strong economy. The 2008 per capita income in the Dominican Republic was $8,200, making it 119th in the world. In Haiti, income was $1,300, ranking 203rd, the lowest in the Western Hemisphere. Satellite images of the island clearly show the divide between the two countries because of deforestation and a lackluster agricultural sector on the Haitian side. ...

GOA's State of the Union review

From Gun Owners of America, recapping last year's battle for our rights:
By the end of the month, President Barack Obama is expected to give the State of the Union address.

Oh, what a year it's been.

It was almost a year ago that President Obama took his oath of office. But soon after he raised his right hand and promised to "preserve, protect and defend" the Constitution, Americans became engaged in the fight of their lives to safeguard their liberties. The extremist Obama administration began pushing an anti-gun, socialistic agenda of the kind that most Americans have not seen in their lifetimes.

The President began placing gun-hating radicals in high positions of power -- both in the executive department and in the courts -- and he pushed a socialistic gun control agenda that kept gun owners busy throughout 2009.

Yet through it all, Gun Owners of America rallied the troops to oppose the President each and every step of the way. Some battles we lost. Others we won. Some are still at a stalemate.

Regardless, this 2009 review should encourage you. It shows that even though every institution in Washington is slanted against us, we can slow down, stop or reverse the march towards gun control.

And, yes, Gun Owners of America has won some incredible victories. In some cases, our organization fought these battles alone -- although in truth, we haven't been alone because we represent thousands upon thousands of active gun owners like you who are all determined to preserve our liberties. ...

Read it here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

You need a handjob

Tonight's inappropriately named product commercial:

Truths we dare not speak

Victor Davis Hanson takes on the politically taboo topics of illegal immigration, affirmative action, and the like:
Affirmative Action

The concept was noble, but now antiquated and mostly absurd. It requires the logic of the Old Confederacy to determine racial purity among the intermarried citizenry. Jet-black Punjabis get no preferences. Light-skinned Mexican-Americans of the fourth-generation claim privilege. Poor whites from Tulare don’t rank. The children of black dentists do. I see very little logic here.

Asians? We both claim them as minorities, and yet we discriminate against them at the University of California admissions process on the basis of their own superior achievement. (Apparently, the deplorable record of discrimination against Asians is now deemed irrelevant due to the community’s own success. Ponder the ramifications of that for a bit: should Asians have been struggling at UC, they would be considered suffering from the legacy of oppression; since they are excelling, they need to be quietly discriminated against).

As far as I can tell, here is the logic of this Byzantine system: Affirmative action in the 21st century has no logical basis in skin color, actual discrimination, poverty, class, or need. It is predicated on two archaic thoughts: previously discriminated against American minorities shall be defined as only Hispanic, Blacks, and Asians, and thus their children shall receive privilege for decades. BUT that new discrimination will not apply if such minorities on their own have prospered and are successful. (Why that would be so in some cases is again a taboo question.)

So, Japanese-Americans, whose parents were put in camps, don’t quite qualify any more for compensation seemingly because they are successful and are thus “over-represented” in the racial spoils system. But Chilean immigrants do—if they can fraudulently piggy-back upon the Mexican-American experience by virtue of a shared language and last names.

If one is of mixed race, nomenclature trumps all. Bob Wilson, the son of a Mexican-American mother, is liable to get nothing, Roberto Martinez will get quite a lot, if the son of a Mexican-American (or any Spanish-speaking) father. A Barry Soetoro is of mere pedestrian mixed ancestry; Barack Obama is not merely black, but exotically so.

In short, the system is corrupt. In our society of intermarriage, immigration and mixed ancestry, we cannot any longer determine who is and who is not a certified “minority” (cf. the con of mostly white candidates claiming some sort of Native American ancestry). ...

Read it here. I disagree with Prof. Hanson that affirmative action was ever "noble", although it is indeed absurd. What's noble about discriminating against people based on the color of their skin? Because that's what affirmative action is: legalized racism. Not only is affirmative action not noble, it's not even a good idea, because affirmative action engenders hostility against its beneficiaries from those who did not benefit, e.g., whites. In addition, affirmative action stigmatizes its beneficiaries with the nagging notion that their achievements and success were not based solely on their own merit. With affirmative action, everyone loses in the end.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Food makeup artist

Tonight's food advertising tricks of the trade:

The People are pissed

Two videos:

First, via American Digest, on this coming Tuesday's special election in Massachusetts to fill the open Senate seat:




Next, via Karl Denniger, comes this video:




Slowly, more and more Americans of all political stripes are waking up. Unfortunately, it may be too late. The government has already spent or borrowed vast sums of money that we're now on the hook for. The debts have already been incurred. Many trillions -- that's a number followed by twelve zeros. Much of it wasted. Or taken from those who earned it, and given to those who didn't, particularly those with the right connections. Bailouts, Wall Street Welfare, wasteful make-work "stimulus" and pet projects. I don't know how much abuse the world's largest economy can take, but I know it ain't infinite. Electing another set of lying crooks who have utter disregard and disdain for the Constitution, who perhaps happen to merely be incrementally less crooked (or so they'll say), won't do it. It's the political equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The ship's still gonna sink.

Frankly, it's an open question at this point whether we have passed the point of no return where whatever political change happens is too little, too late, and thus whether we can avoid bloodshed to restore some semblance of our Republic. I pray we haven't crossed that Rubicon, and am willing to be convinced, but the skeptic in me is doubtful.

On Obama, the Left, and Alinsky

Today's video - Scott Wheeler moderates a discussion with David Horowitz and Pat Cadell on Obama, the Left, and the role of Saul Alinsky:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

World's luckiest track inspector

Tonight's near miss:



I'll bet that woke him up, huh? :)

Curling up by the fire with a good book

Via Mish, comes this story from the U.K.:
Some cash-strapped British pensioners are buying books from charity shops and burn them to keep warm as freezing temperatures gripped the UK, a London newspaper reported Tuesday.

Workers at a charity shop in Swansea, in south Wales, told London newspaper Metro that pensioners were looking for thick books such as encyclopedias — which are sold for a few pennies second hand — as a cheaper alternative to coal.

"Book-burning seems terribly wrong but we have to get rid of unsold stock for pennies and some of the pensioners say the books make ideal slow-burning fuel for fires and stoves," the paper quoted one shop assistant as saying.

"A lot of them buy up large hardback volumes so they can stick them in the fire to last all night."

Energy prices have soared in Britain in the past years, with some estimates showing gas prices up by around 40 percent since January 2008, and electricity tariffs rising by about 20 percent. ...

Article here. This might be coming soon to a fireplace near you, especially if the FedGov passes Cap and Trade (which will seriously raise energy prices) to please the Global Warming gods, and their fervent true believers. Of course, if inflation takes off, it'll probably happen anyway, particularly for those on fixed incomes.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hamsterdam

Tonight's mindless entertainment:

And justice for all ... of the right skin color

From National Review, on the Obama Administration's railroading of the Department of Justice lawyer who wanted to prosecute the thugs who intimidated elderly white voters at the polls in Philadelphia during the November 2008 elections:
It’s not news that Christopher Coates, the former chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, was relieved of his post on January 5 and “transferred” to South Carolina for an 18-month assignment with the U.S. attorney’s office. (See my article on the NRO home page.)

Coates had been relentlessly criticized by liberals both inside and outside the division because of his involvement in two cases — one in Noxubee County, Mississippi (U.S. v. Ike Brown et al.), the other in Philadelphia (U.S. v. New Black Panther Party et al.) — that feature clear-cut voting-rights violations (namely, discrimination and intimidation) committed by black defendants.

Coates is a former ACLU attorney who has received many awards for his work in the area of civil rights over the past four decades. He has filed numerous voting-rights cases on behalf of minority voters. But he got in trouble because some of the ideologues who inhabit the civil-rights community don’t want to accept anyone who doesn’t share their view of Voting Rights Act (VRA) enforcement. One of their unbreakable rules is that the VRA shouldn’t be used to protect white voters from discrimination committed by racial or ethnic minorities.

Apparently eager to punish Coates for his role in these cases, political appointees in the Obama administration effectively stripped him of all his management and supervisory authority soon after they came into power. The indignity and abuse to which Coates was subjected represents a disheartening example of the politicization of Eric Holder’s Justice Department, and will serve as another ugly stain on an out-of-control Civil Rights Division.

In any event, Coates had a going-away event on January 4 that was attended by the entire staff of the Voting Section and several members of the Civil Rights Division’s new political leadership, including the assistant attorney general. Several people who were there (including a former colleague who no longer works at the Justice Department but was an invited guest) told me what Coates said.

His speech is a remarkable statement by a respected career lawyer. It’s one that every Justice Department employee should hear, particularly at a time when politics seems to be driving so many law-enforcement decisions at the Justice Department. ...

Read the rest here, as well as the referenced article above (or go here) for more information on Mr. Coates and the Obamites sidetracking of the Voting Rights Act lawsuits. Hmmm, so Mr. Coates, who started his career at the Justice Department during the Clinton administration, is a former ACLU attorney with four decades of experience who has received awards from such groups as the NAACP for his civil rights, and specifically voting rights, advocacy. To the Obamites, he's clearly a right-wing racist hater, no?

At any rate, to recap our new voting rights enforcement policy in the era of Hope and Change: it's OK to stand around the entrances of polling stations dressed in all-black military style garb and brandish nightsticks at elderly folks to intimidate, er, "persuade" them, er, inform them of their voting options to assist them in exercising their voting rights in an informed and educated manner. But only if you're black (or possibly just very well tanned), and the elderly folks are white, or as the illuminati call them, persons of pallor. Got it?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Time for some ice fishin'

Tonight's ice fishing video, Crazy Canuck edition:

I pledge ...

From Young Americans for Liberty, comes this video:




[Via Mish]

New York Governor doubles security detail; size larger than that assigned to patrol all of Long Island

From the Empire State:
Gov. Paterson's security detail has been doubled in the last year for what are being called "political" reasons, and is now bigger than the entire State Police force patrolling Long Island, troopers have told The Post.

"The governor wants to have an entourage -- three or four cars -- wherever he goes because he thinks it makes him look more gubernatorial, it helps him politically," contended a senior official with firsthand knowledge of the situation.

Thomas Mungeer, president of the State Troopers Police Benevolent Association, said that while Paterson has been cutting the State Police because of Albany's worsening budget crisis, he's been increasing protection for himself.

"Despite the inadequate manpower due to attrition and requests for help by municipalities, the governor has reassigned road troopers to the detail assigned to protect him and his entourage, increasing the size of that detail to more than 200 members," according to Mungeer. [emphasis added] ...

Article here. Anti-gun politicians are rarely shy about making sure they are well protected, typically at taxpayer expense, while they work diligently to disarm the people they were ostensibly elected to serve.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Musical interlude

Tonight's musical interlude - Buddy Greene plays a classical medley on his harmonica at Carnegie Hall:

High robbery rate gives NBA players reason to carry arms

From John Lott, writing at FoxNews.com:
Some people ask why a man who stands 6-foot-4, weighs 215 pounds and doesn't have an ounce of fat on him needs to carry a gun.

But Gilbert Arenas is not an anonymous physical specimen. He's a player for the NBA's Washington Wizards. And statistics show that the point guard's fame and recognition make him much more likely than the average man on the street to become the victim of a violent crime.

Arenas, who has no previous criminal record, was indefinitely suspended without pay Wednesday by NBA Commissioner David Stern for bringing unloaded guns into his team's locker room. Federal and local authorities are looking into criminal charges, particularly possible violations of the District of Columbia's strict gun laws.

...

For some observers, it is hard to comprehend why professional athletes carry guns. The massive size and strength of NBA players would appear to make them unlikely crime victims. But Gary Kleck, a criminology Professor at Florida State University and co-author of "The Great American Gun Debate," says that's hardly the case.

"Athletes in some respects constitute more attractive targets," Kleck says. "They have a high public profile and are known to have wealth and items that can easily be stolen, such as jewelry."

Statistics support Kleck's case. Five NBA players were robbed during the four years from 2005 to 2008 — a rate of 280 per 100,000 people, compared to 145 per 100,000 for the rest of the U.S. population. In other words, the rate that NBA players are robbed was about twice the rate for the rest of the country. ...

Read it here.

Missouri: Council Fails To Override Veto On Weapons Bill

From the Show Me State:
RAYMORE, Mo. -- The Raymore City Council failed on Monday to override the mayor's veto of a bill allowing council members to bring a gun into chambers.

Bill 2514 was first introduced in November and passed with a majority vote in December, but the mayor vetoed it.

The bill would have allowed city council members who have conceal and carry permits to bring those weapons to meetings.

"I fall into the camp that I think if you give as many law-abiding citizens as much second amendment freedom as possible, that that enhances public safety rather than detract," said Councilman Jeff Cox, who wrote the bill.

Mayor Juan Alonzo said he couldn't sign off on a bill that would only allow council members to bring guns to meetings and not citizens.

"We can't say everybody in this chamber can carry a weapon, but we can say nobody will carry, and I think that it's a lot more fair if nobody is armed than the governing body is and the citizens aren't," Alonzo said. [emphasis added]

City Council members failed to override the veto by one vote.

Article here. Good for Mayor Alonzo. If ordinary citizens (you know, the ones who pay the politicians' salaries) can't carry at City Council meetings, then why should City Council members?

Writer pushes "iron river" lie in new novel

From California:
SAN DIEGO -- A best-selling novelist from San Diego County is taking on the issue of guns traveling from the U.S. to Mexico where they are used by drug cartels, 10News reported.

T. Jefferson Parker's new novel, out this week, is fiction but based on a grim reality.

Parker has written 17 novels, has won several awards and has been on best-seller lists. He enjoys the Southern California lifestyle at his Fallbrook home, but he became increasingly concerned hearing about the drug violence in Mexico.

"These are all murders by gun. Where are they getting the guns? You can't buy them in Mexico. You can't go to a store and buy a gun," said Parker.

Parker said he found most of the guns used by Mexican drug cartels -- some say 90 percent -- come from the U.S. along what is called the Iron River, running from San Diego to Corpus Christi, Texas. "Iron River" is the title of Parker's newest novel. ...

Article here. Another ill-informed idiot, this one posing as an author. Or maybe he's another anti-gun leftist who abhors human rights, and his fellow citizens who dare to exercise them.

The reality, of course, is that the "iron river of guns" from the U.S. into Mexico is a big fat lie pushed by the anti-gunners and their media and FedGov collaborators seeking to further infringe upon our fundamental human rights. Most of the Mexican drug cartels get their guns on the black market from other arms-producing nations (South Korean grenades, anyone?), or from the corrupt Mexican military, much of which the U.S. Government supplied in the form of military aid, or obtained via U.S. Government approved commercial arms shipments to the Mexican government.

If Mr. Parker's novels are so poorly researched, I guess I won't be buying any of his books.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Probably another victim of public education

Tonight's don't-try-this-at-home video:

On complexity and (over)simplification

From ShrinkWrapped:
One of the things that turns liberals into conservatives, or libertarians, is the collision of liberalism with reality. It is easy to believe that the rich should pay higher taxes in order to help raise th poor out of poverty (and that it only requires money to lift someone out of poverty) when you are young and have few responsibilities or expenses. Once you begin to actually work for a living and pay taxes you begin to realize that there is a trade-off between your ability to do some of the things you want to do and your tax liabilities. Then, all of a sudden, you are one of the rich (the 49% of tax payers) and your sense of what is fair to pay becomes more finely honed. As well, you note that the decisions you make with your income become heavily influenced by the taxes you pay. Your simple theory (higher taxes equals less poverty) becomes a casualty of your increased appreciation for complexity.

Another way of describing the transition form liberalism to libertarianism or conservatism, is that liberalism operates in a data poor environment, in which feelings are equivalent and of equal valence to facts. As your information increases, you usually must increase the complexity of your understanding if you want to continually hone your sense of reality. ...

Read it here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Old Jews Telling Jokes - Best of 2009

Tonight's "10 best jokes of 2009", from Old Jews Telling Jokes. The jokes play one after the other, with ads in between:

Remains of WW2 hero and his wife receive honored resting place

From the St. Petersburg, FL Times, comes this story:
BUSHNELL — The two teenagers got to the cemetery first.

He wore his dark green dress uniform from the National Guard. She wore a long black dress.

They stood on the edge of the road, across from rows of matching military headstones, waiting for the funeral of the man they had never met.

Mike Colt, 19, and his girlfriend, Carol Sturgell, 18, had driven more than an hour from their Tampa homes on Wednesday to be at Florida National Cemetery.

They weren't really sure why they had come. They just knew they had to be here.

"It's kind of sad, huh?" asked Sturgell, scanning the sea of white gravestones.

Colt nodded. "Yeah, but it feels kind of important."

At 12:20 p.m., a Tampa police car pulled up, then a white Lincoln Town Car. Another police cruiser followed. Two officers stepped out.

"Thank you for being here," Colt said, shaking both of their hands.

"No, thank you," said Officer Dan College. "If it weren't for you guys, none of us would be here."

• • •

Three weeks ago, on the last Saturday of November, the young couple was hanging out at Sturgell's house when her brother rode up on his bike, all excited. He had found two fishing poles in this huge pile of trash. Come check it out, he said. So they did.

At the edge of the trash mound, sticking out from beneath a box, Sturgell spied a worn green folder.

She pulled it out, brushed off the dust. Across the top, bold letters said, "Department of Defense." Inside, she found retirement papers from the U.S. Army; a citation for a Purple Heart issued in 1945; and a certificate for a Bronze Star medal "for heroism in ground combat in the vicinity of Normandy, France ... June 1944." In the center of the certificate there was a name: Delbert E. Hahn.

Why would anyone throw that away? Sturgell asked.

And who is that guy? Colt wanted to know. Must be old, a World War II vet. Looks like he served at D-Day!

That night, they took the paperwork back to Sturgell's house and searched Delbert E. Hahn on the computer. Nothing. They talked about who he might have been, the life he might have led.

The next morning, they went back to the trash heap and searched for more clues. They rummaged through boxes, overturned furniture, picked through piles of the past. Colt moved a ratty couch — and something fell out. A metal vase, or box, some kind of rectangular container about a foot tall. On the base was the name: Delbert E. Hahn.

"It's him," Colt told his girlfriend. "This must be him, in his urn."

Sturgell screamed. She didn't want to touch it. It was kind of freaky, she said, discovering the remains of some dead guy.

"He shouldn't be here," Colt said. "No one should be thrown away like that, just left in a parking lot."

The dead man wasn't alone. Under the couch, the couple found two more sets of remains: a cylinder-style container with Barbara Hahn printed on the bottom and another urn, which had no name. ...

Read the rest here. Mr. Hahn was awarded five Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts. Kudos to Mr. Colt and his girlfriend, and the Tampa PD for making sure the remains of Mr. Hahn and his wife finally received a proper resting place.

How many shoes?

So asks Tom Baugh, a former Marine officer and combat veteran, graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and entrepreneur:
Imagine the following. Assume that the world has collapsed into chaos, and among the many survivors are two individuals in particular: Survivor A and Survivor B. Survivor A has ten pairs of shoes stored for the collapse, while Survivor B has a thousand pairs of shoes socked away. Survivor A takes loving care of each pair, while Survivor B runs his shoes hard, wearing them out and then grabbing another off the shelf.

Question: After fifty years, how many shoes does each survivor have to pass on to his
grandchildren?

Think hard. Hint: this is a trick question.

...

So now let's shift gears a little bit. If you've read much of my work, you know that I am keen on uncovering reality by performing experiments. Here's another. Go to a gun show, then walk around and ask people the following series of questions. If the answer to each question is in the negative, stop asking questions and move on.

a) Do you think there is going to be a collapse of law and order?

b) Do you think that weapons and ammunition are going to be an essential component to
surviving that collapse?

c) Will it be essential to restart the economy after a collapse?

d) What skills will you bring to a post-collapse world to be able to thrive in that economy?

Now, because you asked these questions at a gun show, affirmative answers to a) and b) should be obvious. The last two are where it gets interesting. We'll get back to some likely answers you will encounter, and their implications, later in this article.

I think you will agree that what we are about to enter can best be described as a period of armed conflict. The potential initiators for this conflict are numerous and, again, a topic for another article, but the end result of all of these initiators will be the same: a period of wide-spread brush-fire wars.

People go to war to achieve a desired end-state. Some may argue that wars have been started as an ends in themselves to benefit various bankers or war industries. But even those wars achieve a desired end-state: the enrichment of the war-backers. Defensive wars, whether large and multi-national, or small and contained within the borders of your property, achieve the end-state of a nation, or you and your family remaining alive and your property intact. Or not. Other wars involve the end-state of satisfied vengeance. Or not.

In the crisis which draws closer each day, we have an unprecedented opportunity to achieve an end-state unique in all of human history, challenged only by the end-state attained by the Founders in the Revolutionary War. We now have the benefit of history which they lacked. To see what this end-state requires, we must first tie together our previous shoe discussion and our gun show survey. [emphasis added] ...

Go read it all here. Think about the coming struggle, and prepare. Use the time we have left, whether that's a couple of months or a couple of years, to prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally for the coming adversity.

Steyn: An Englishman's home is his castle dungeon

From Mark Steyn, on another example of how far the hapless Brits have become mired in submission to their government:
The motto of the Canadian Mounties is that they always get their man. The motto of the British police is that they always get you. Frankly, it's a lot easier:
The TV presenter and Marks & Spencer model Myleene Klass has been warned by police for waving a knife at teenagers who were peering into a window of her house late at night.

Klass was in the kitchen with her daughter upstairs when she spotted the youths in her garden just after midnight on Friday. She grabbed a knife and banged the windows before they ran away.

Hertfordshire police warned her she should not have used a knife to scare off the youths because carrying an "offensive weapon", even in her own home, was illegal. [emphasis added]

Klass's spokesman, Jonathan Shalit, said the former Hear'Say singer was "utterly terrified" by the intruders and "aghast" at the police warning. "All she did was scream loudly and wave the knife to try and frighten them off," he told the Sunday Telegraph.

Is screaming loudly still legal? Or is that in breach of Health & Safety regulations? ...

Read it here. This is what happens when the people lose both the spirit and means of armed rebellion. The second typically follows the first.

It's hard to imagine anything short of direct action by the few remaining courageous Brits (are any still left?) against their government turning this around. Unfortunately for them, without guns and the will to use them the chains of their own slavery will likely bind them to their graves, absent the intervention of better men than themselves. When the Brits surrendered their guns they removed the ability to implement a kinetic solution to their enslavement, and extinguished any hope of remaining free men. Let's pray we Americans never make the same mistake.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chicken, plucked

Tonight's unusual farm gizmo -- a chicken plucker (Pluck-O-Matic?):

The Day the Dollar Died, Parts VIII through XI

Weekend reading from John Galt, the latest installments of his speculative fiction series, The Day the Dollar Died:

Part VIII: “CQ, CQ, is Anybody out there?”

Part IX: There’s Two “T’s” in Ottumwa

Part X: The Dented Crown and Worthless Pound

Part XI: Dawn over Amerika


Read the earlier chapters here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Operators are (probably) standing by

Tonight's home improvement infomercial - the Accubrush paint edger:

Thomas Sowell on Intellectuals and Society

This weekend's interview comes from National Review TV's Peter Robinson, who interviews Dr. Thomas Sowell on his new book Intellectuals and Society:

In five parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

His book is available here: Intellectuals and Society


CNN's Cafferty on Dems' lack of promised openness

Looks like the Dems are starting to lose some of the committed lefties over at CNN: