Sunday, February 28, 2010

I feel the need, the need for speed

Tonight's fast auto, courtesy of Top Gear:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

City skier

Tonight's don't-try-this-at-home ski video -- a skier in Romania tries a little street skiing, at least until the local constabulary shows up:

Friday, February 26, 2010

The news report formula explained

Tonight's news reporting formula, explained by Charlie Booker:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The wedding of Jeff and Erin

Tonight's wedding trailer - for the real-life wedding of Jeff Wong and Erin Martin, who originally put together this video for their friends to announce their upcoming nuptials:

The Liberty Minded Man

Today's thoughtful reading comes from Gun Rights 4 Us All. An excerpt:
Recently I was asked by a good friend for the most concise and cogent summation of “what we believe” that he could in turn share with someone that he cares deeply about.

The more I thought about it, the more I was intrigued at the prospect of finding or authoring such a summation. Eschewing all one-size-fits-all labels like conservative, libertarian, Republican, etc., maybe it’s best to label this worldview as The Liberty Minded Man.

I posed the question to a handful of people that I respect and whose views are well within the sphere of what I had in mind when I coined the phrase The Liberty Minded Man. One of those people is libertarian journalist Vin Suprynowicz who mildly challenged me on the need to avoid the label of libertarian. My answer is that far too many people think they know what a specific label means, when in fact they do not. And if the basic premise is to define a worldview, then jettisoning preconceptions that are likely erroneous anyway seems to be the best way to start.

The Liberty Minded Man (let’s call him LM2 in the interest of saving keystrokes) is an avowed individualist who despises being controlled by others. He’s not averse to working with others in pursuit of his goals, but he generally chaffs at arbitrary control; particularly of the sort exercised by government bureaucrats of every stripe! A trip to the Driver’s License agency is a pretty painful experience for the average LM2. On the subject of government, the LM2 firmly believes the old truism that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Can anyone deny that government’s main purpose (in actuality, NOT theory) is to grow more government? The LM2 looks to the Founders and Signers and generally agrees with their view that government should serve the people, and not the reverse.

Today the US government purports to serve the people, but that is nothing more than a thinly veiled illusion that is easily digested by the legions of benefactors of wealth redistribution. Doubt that? Then the next time you find yourself in front of one of the tax feeders that exercises some bit of authority over your life, try voicing the view that they work for you. Watch the reaction you get. I promise you it won’t result in a positive outcome. If you honestly and sincerely want to discover the degree to which you have become enslaved to the growing government colossus, then read a book by James Bovard entitled Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty. You can NOT come away from reading that book without a sharply defined sense of being robbed of your liberties!

So the first defining characteristic of the LM2 is a mistrust and generally dim view of government – ALL government. ...

Read it all here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Quick impressions

Tonight's quick impressions - 50 impressions in 50 seconds:

[Via The Anchoress]

Robb: Rage against the machine

Global Guerillas' John Robb comments on the recent Texas aircraft-to-IRS building rendezvous:
Here are some quick notes on Joe Stack's violence and the acts of others (there have been many recently). I tend to view people like Joe Stack as canaries in the coal mine -- people on the margins, mentally and situationally, that fatally explode at the early onset of severe societal and economic pressure. Here's what's driving them:

* Extreme frustration/hopelessness. A great many people have seen little to no success in the US commercial sector despite a considerable effort, for decades. For workers below the median wage this current environment is a depression -- from the duration to the rate of the un/underemployment. Any status gain they might have achieved before this occurred is now gone. [emphasis added]

Read his short post here. His conclusion is that we will "[m]ost assuredly" see more of this type of violence.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The new, improved biathlon

Tonight's Winter Olympics action -- the new, improved biathlon [Hat Tip: Kev McD]:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Musical interlude

Tonight's musical interlude - ABBA's Chiquitita:

Mack: "the revolution is starting"

From the Alamogordo, N.M. Daily News:
In his opening remarks Saturday at the Flickinger Center for Performing Arts, former Graham County, Ariz., Sheriff Richard Mack said "the revolution is starting."

He said he is really about a revolution in upholding the U.S. Constitution, state autonomy and the Founding Fathers' vision of liberty.

"I pray to God that it remains peaceful," he said to the crowd. "You'll never hear me say otherwise. I am the most peaceful man you'll meet in your life."

Mack authored the book "The County Sheriff: America's Last Hope."

Mack is known nationally for successfully challenging the constitutionality of the Brady Bill all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court with Ravalli County, Mont., Sheriff Jay Printz.

The Brady Bill requires a five-day waiting period before handgun purchases by an individual. The law also requires a background check on potential handgun buyers to determine whether they have a criminal record.

During Mack's tenure, federal officers informed county sheriffs in Arizona and across the county that they would be required to enforce the "Brady Bill" and run background checks at their expense.

In 1994, Mack, Printz and five other sheriffs from across the country challenged the legality of the bill and ultimately fought it all the way to the Supreme Court. Three years later, in a landmark 5-4 split decision based on the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Mack and the other sheriffs won their case.


Mack said he wants people to know states have their own sovereignty.

"In one of Time magazine's 1994 edition, It has an article entitled 'How to Survive the New World Order,'" he said. "To this day, I don't know if I can define the New World Order, but I do know it's entirely un-American. Its purpose is to destroy America. The United Nations is not in lock step with America."

Mack said he believes if local officials understand their duty to uphold and defend the Constitution, they will stop any interference with people's rights to bear arms.

"They will not allow U.N. soldiers or anyone in any kind of uniform to disarm them," he said. "They will interpose or practice the theory of interposition and risk their lives to make sure we're never disarmed. It is one way your sheriff can guarantee freedom." ...

Read it here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

So you want to be a cowboy

Tonight's it's-tough-being-a-cowboy-sometimes video:

Glenn Beck's keynote address at CPAC

Via Maggie's Notebook, comes the video of Glenn Beck's fabulous keynote address to CPAC yesterday -- with no teleprompter!

Full video (about an hour long):

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The name is Bond, James Bond

Tonight's 007 spoof -- Tom Hanks, as James Bond:

Bill O'Reilly interviews Oath Keepers

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly interviews Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes:

Washington Supreme Court rules Second Amendment applies to state

From Seattle Gun Rights Examiner Dave Workman, on a recent Washington State Supreme Court ruling:
The Washington State Supreme Court delivered a haymaker to anti-gunners – and strong reinforcement to gun rights advocates – Thursday morning when it handed down an opinion in the case of State v. Sieyes that states bluntly, “We hold the Second Amendment applies to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause.”

The majority opinion, written by Justice Richard B. Sanders, was signed by five other justices including Chief Justice Barbara A. Madsen, with a (sort-of) concurring opinion from Justice Debra L. Stephens that takes issue with the incorporation premise, and a partly-concurring and partly-dissenting opinion from Justice James M. Johnson that argues the majority ruling isn’t strong enough.

Although the issue of incorporation is at the heart of McDonald v. Chicago, the Second Amendment Foundation's case now before the United States Supreme Court for which oral arguments are scheduled March 2, Sanders notes in his majority state-level opinion that even though the high court “did not expressly consider incorporation of the right to bear arms” in the June 2008 Heller ruling, “that need not stop the rest of us.” He maintains that lower courts “need not wait for the Supreme Court” on the question of incorporation. ...

Read it here, with link to the opinion here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The future of air travel

Tonight's airport security preview, coming to a TSA checkpoint near you:

The Second Amen-ment ...

... Gun Shop, that is. From North Carolina:
SMITHFIELD - Vickie Jordan and her husband, Eddie, were all set to open a gun store in Smithfield, but they were missing one thing: the name.

"I went to bed one night and was real apprehensive because we couldn't come up with a name," Vickie Jordan recalled.

When she finally got to sleep, she said, she dreamt that God told her to name it after the Second Amendment -- the Constitutional right to bear arms -- but to call it the Second Amen-ment Gun Shop.

"I said, 'All right, Lord, I get the picture," Vickie Jordan said.

The name fit well: Her husband is an evangelist and pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Selma. And when he's not preaching, he can be found at the shooting range with his son, Blake, who manages the new store.

"A lot of people make fun of me -- a Bible in one hand, a .44 in the other," Eddie Jordan said. "I sort of turned a hobby into a business."

Article here.

More media bias?

From and Investors Business Daily op-ed on the recent University of Alabama mass shooting:
Media Bias: A gun-toting Obama extremist shoots six at the University of Alabama, killing three. But the media are curiously silent about the politics. Think it would be the same if the shooter were right-wing?

Buried in a report in the Boston Herald, a "family source" connected to Amy Bishop, the disgruntled Harvard neurobiologist accused of methodically gunning down several biology professors at Huntsville last Friday, said the woman "was a far-left political extremist who was 'obsessed' with President Obama to the point of being off-putting."

No media outlet other than the Herald noted that detail in its coverage. But you can bet that if Bishop were a right-wing gun nut and native of Alabama, the press would be all over it.

Bishop's politics are relevant because of growing evidence that left-wing Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., then a prosecutor, may have let her get away with a fatal 1986 shooting of her brother by declaring it "accidental" and halting charges.

Bishop's mother reportedly had the right political connections, raising the prospect that if Delahunt was loud about loving "social justice," he was selective about real justice.

Because the media lean left, the incuriosity about Bishop's political obsession is noticeable: Move along, nothing here but a psycho crime. ...


Did any of the media find similar dangers in the elite liberal Massachusetts background of Amy Bishop? Any racism to be inferred from her choice of victims, not one of whom was white? ...

Read it here. I'll have to take the op-ed writer's word that the mainstream media hasn't covered this, as I myself haven't been paying much attention to the mainstream media of late.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Guitar prodigy

Tonight's music prodigy -- 8 year old Tallan Latz of Elkhorn, Wisconsin:

China unloads Treasuries

From Zero Hedge:
Gradually we are getting confirmation that Chinese "posturing" about offloading US debt is all too real. The most recent TIC data confirmed the Treasury's greatest nightmare: China is now dumping US bonds. In December China sold $34.2 billion of debt ($38.8 billion in Bills sold offset by $4.6 billion in Bonds purchased), lowering its total holdings $755.4 billion, the lowest since February 2009, and for the first time in many years relinquishing the top US debt holder spot to Japan, which bought $11.5 billion (mostly in Bonds, selling $1.4 billion Bills) bringing its total to $768.8 billion. Also, very oddly, the surge in UK holding continues, providing yet another clue as to the identity if the "direct bidder" - as we first assumed, these are merely UK centers transacting primarily on behalf of China as well as hedge funds, which are accumulating US debt under the radar. UK holdings increased from $230.7 billion to $302.5 billion in December: a stunning $70 billion increase in a two month span. Yet, with the identity of the UK-based buyers a secret, it really could be anyone... Anyone with very deep pockets. ...

Article here. China, of course, has to tread carefully and quietly, lest they initiate a stampede for the exits, as everyone starts dumping their U.S. Treasury holdings. I wouldn't be surprised if others are doing the same.

Collapse of Euro 'inevitable'

From the U.K. Daily Mail:
The European single currency is facing an 'inevitable break-up' a leading French bank claimed yesterday.

Strategists at Paris-based Société Générale said that any bailout of the stricken Greek economy would only provide 'sticking plasters' to cover the deep- seated flaws in the eurozone bloc.

The stark warning came as the euro slipped further on the currency markets and dire growth figures raised the prospect of a 'double-dip' recession in the embattled zone.

Claims that the euro could be headed for total collapse are particularly striking when they come from one of the oldest and largest banks in France - a core founder-member.

In a note to investors, SocGen strategist Albert Edwards said: 'My own view is that there is little "help" that can be offered by the other eurozone nations other than temporary, confidence-giving "sticking plasters" before the ultimate denouement: the break-up of the eurozone.'

He added: 'Any "help" given to Greece merely delays the inevitable break-up of the eurozone.' ...

Article here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What an insult

Tonight's quotable examples of the art of the insult:
“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”
– Winston Churchill

“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.”
– Clarence Darrow

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
– William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

”I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.”
– Groucho Marx

“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”
– Mark Twain

”I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play, bring a friend if you have one.”
– George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

“Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second….. if there is one.”
– Winston Churchill to Shaw, in response

”I feel so miserable without you, it’s almost like having you here.”
– Stephen Bishop

“He is a self-made man and worships his creator.”
– John Bright

“I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial”
– Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others."
– Samuel Johnson

“He had delusions of adequacy.”
– Walter Kerr

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.”
– Oscar Wilde

Woman, to Churchill: “If you were my husband, I’d give you poison.”

Churchill: “If you were my wife, madam, I’d take it.”

Who do you trust, the FedGov or your own lying eyes?

From Zero Hedge, on the increasing discrepancy between the reported official government economic figures and private data sources:
As if anyone needed more reasons to doubt the data coming out of our government. Earlier today the Commerce Department reported that January retail sales data came at a nice and bubbly 0.5% sequential increase, and an even nicer and bubblier 4.7% YoY. This presumably beat expectations which were looking for a sequential beat of 0.3%. Yet here comes the much more reliable Gallup data to throw some salt in yet another economic data fabrication. According to daily Gallup consumer polling, which due to its lack of proximity to the government propaganda complex is vastly more reliable, the January average data showed a decline of 5.8% over January 2009 and a whopping 16.3% decline over December. This is beginning to parallel the ever increasing divergence between the ABC consumer comfort index and the UMichigan index which lately seems to only track the average leve of the S&P over the prior month. [emphasis added] ...

Read it here, with charts and a brief explanation of the Gallup versus FedGov methodologies.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Nolan's Cheddar

Tonight's cheesy ad (watch the whole thing):

The corrosive effects of chronic joblessness

From The Atlantic, comes this essay:
How should we characterize the economic period we have now entered? After nearly two brutal years, the Great Recession appears to be over, at least technically. Yet a return to normalcy seems far off. By some measures, each recession since the 1980s has retreated more slowly than the one before it. In one sense, we never fully recovered from the last one, in 2001: the share of the civilian population with a job never returned to its previous peak before this downturn began, and incomes were stagnant throughout the decade. Still, the weakness that lingered through much of the 2000s shouldn’t be confused with the trauma of the past two years, a trauma that will remain heavy for quite some time.

The unemployment rate hit 10 percent in October, and there are good reasons to believe that by 2011, 2012, even 2014, it will have declined only a little. Late last year, the average duration of unemployment surpassed six months, the first time that has happened since 1948, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking that number. As of this writing, for every open job in the U.S., six people are actively looking for work.

All of these figures understate the magnitude of the jobs crisis. The broadest measure of unemployment and underemployment (which includes people who want to work but have stopped actively searching for a job, along with those who want full-time jobs but can find only part-time work) reached 17.4 percent in October, which appears to be the highest figure since the 1930s. And for large swaths of society—young adults, men, minorities—that figure was much higher (among teenagers, for instance, even the narrowest measure of unemployment stood at roughly 27 percent). One recent survey showed that 44 percent of families had experienced a job loss, a reduction in hours, or a pay cut in the past year.

There is unemployment, a brief and relatively routine transitional state that results from the rise and fall of companies in any economy, and there is unemployment—chronic, all-consuming. The former is a necessary lubricant in any engine of economic growth. The latter is a pestilence that slowly eats away at people, families, and, if it spreads widely enough, the fabric of society. Indeed, history suggests that it is perhaps society’s most noxious ill.

The worst effects of pervasive joblessness—on family, politics, society—take time to incubate, and they show themselves only slowly. But ultimately, they leave deep marks that endure long after boom times have returned. Some of these marks are just now becoming visible, and even if the economy magically and fully recovers tomorrow, new ones will continue to appear. The longer our economic slump lasts, the deeper they’ll be.

If it persists much longer, this era of high joblessness will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults—and quite possibly those of the children behind them as well. It will leave an indelible imprint on many blue-collar white men—and on white culture. It could change the nature of modern marriage, and also cripple marriage as an institution in many communities. It may already be plunging many inner cities into a kind of despair and dysfunction not seen for decades. Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years. ...

Read the rest here. Worth a read for the discussion of the generational and inter-generational aspects of job loss and joblessness, although the author's prescriptions that we (via the government) must spend more money and raise taxes as a way to "solve" the problem, while I'm sure in keeping with the left-leaning bias of the publication, misses the mark. For starters, we could begin dismantling the vast and costly legal and regulatory infrastructure the government has erected (and continues to expand) that burdens businesses and has the effect of making jobs more expensive. The result is fewer jobs, and less innovation.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Musical interlude

Tonight's 70's musical interlude - ABBA's Voulez-Vous:

UK University: History starts in 1700

From the formerly Great Britain:
Academics have attacked a decision by a top university to scrap research into English history before 1700.

It was claimed that the move by Sussex University risked jeopardising the nation’s understanding of the subject and “entrenching the ignorance of the present”.

Under plans, research and in-depth teaching into periods such as the Tudors, the Middle-Ages, Norman Britain, the Viking invasion and the Anglo-Saxons will be scrapped, along with the Civil Wars.

The university will also end research into the history of continental Europe pre-1900, affecting the study of the Napoleonic wars and the Roman Empire.

The university said it was “reshaping” its curriculum and research following a £3m cut in Government funding. ...

Read it here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's day for guys

Tonight's humor [NSFW]:

Univ. of Oklahoma student collecting pics of snow in all 50 states

From Oklahoma:
NORMAN, Oklahoma -- A University of Oklahoma student is taking an extra interest in this week's snow storms in the south and northeast and is working to document the events in a very unique way.

Patrick Marsh said it's likely by the end of the week snow will be on the ground in all 50 states.

From Ardmore all the way to Dallas and even in Louisiana, the south is snowed in. For many, it's a winter wonderland in places that rarely see such weather. But none of it comes close to the mess up north where two blizzards have blown through in a week.


Marsh said Florida is the only state without snow on the ground at this point, but he said two to four inches of snow is forecasted on Friday in some parts of the state. There is currently even snow on some of the mountain tops in Hawaii. [emphasis added] ...

Article here. You know Global Warming has truly arrived when there's snow on the ground in all fifty states. :)

Lawyer Marketing

Today's lawyer joke, Valentine's Day edition:
A woman walks into a post office to mail a letter. He notices a man standing at the counter with a pile of pink envelopes. She watches as he places a Love stamp on each one and then sprays it with perfume.

Her curiosity gets the better of her, so she approaches the man. “What are you doing?” She asks.

“I’m mailing 1,000 Valentine’s Day cards signed, “Guess who?”

“Why would you do that?” asks the woman.

“I’m a divorce lawyer,” was the man’s reply.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Better off Ted

Tonight's vulgar outtakes [foul language warning, NSFW, but funny]:

Cops: Man with weapons preparing for 'Armageddon'

From the People's Democratic Commonwealth of Massachusetts, via the Boston Globe, comes this story:
A Manchester-by-the-Sea man who allegedly had a cache of weapons in his home told police he was preparing for Armageddon, authorities said.

Gregory D. Girard, 45, was arrested Tuesday night for allegedly storing several tear gas grenades and explosive pepper ball projectiles. He was also charged with the illegal possession of four police batons.

Just before 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Manchester-by-the Sea police executed a search warrant at 23 Bridge St., police said in a statement. Girard faces four counts of possession of an infernal device and four counts of possession of a dangerous weapon. Additional charges are pending, police said.

"He indicated to police that he anticipated some form of Armageddon to take place shortly and he was getting prepared," Police Chief Glenn McKiel said.

In addition to the grenade-type devices, police found approximately 20 weapons, including high-powered rifles, shotguns, and handguns. All of the firearms were purchased and registered legally within the past 10 months, McKiel said.


Police also found a large collection of camouflage clothing, knives, bulletproof vests, helmets, and eight pairs of handcuffs in Girard’s home. They also discovered stockpiles of medicine and non-perishable foods. An illegal indoor shooting range was also found in the attic, police said.

Police seized all the weapons and ammunition and revoked Girard’s license to carry firearms. ...

Article here. The Boston Herald also has an article here. Oh, the horror! Four counts of possession of those evil "illegal" police batons! Were they "assault batons"? And the police "discovered stockpiles of medicine and non-perishable foods." The article notes that the judge ordered him held without bail after his arraignment.

Over at, William Grigg's gives us his take on the situation:
“We feel our community is safer having this kind of weaponry off the street,” intoned a spokesman for the Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts police department

Granted, the invocation of that cliche is part of the familiar gun-grabber liturgy, but it doesn’t apply here, since the “weaponry” referred to was never on the “street” to begin with. It consisted of several firearms legally purchased by 45-year-old Gregory D. Girard, a computer consultant whose wife — was her maiden name Morozov, perchance? — told the authorities about her husband’s supposedly alarming view that martial law is imminent.

Since it is unacceptable for people to believe that government agents will carry out paramilitary raids to confiscate firearms, a paramilitary force was sent to Girard’s home to confiscate his firearms. ...

Mr. Girard's primary mistake appears to have been ... living in Massachusetts.

Doctor Zero: The Answer to Socialism

From Doctor Zero:
American socialism has long functioned under the principle that a strong central government, lavishly funded by the middle and upper classes, should influence the economy in the name of “social justice,” and provide benefits to the lower class. The power and cost of the government have steadily increased – surging under the previous two Presidents, and exploding under the current one. Its financing has shifted to deficit spending and direct control through mandates and regulation, since endless tax increases became politically painful.

I believe this system is very close to total collapse. If nothing else triggers it, the explosive bankruptcy of Social Security and Medicare will. The half-life of American socialism may now be measured in years, rather than decades. If we let it run its course and crash, its death throes will be unspeakably painful.


The appeal of socialism comes from more than just using money taken from the wealthy to buy the votes of the poor. It is also an expression of rage, from those who believe capitalism has treated them unfairly. Too many people seem quite willing to put up with a reduction in their modest standard of living, as long as they believe some faceless “fat cats” are getting soaked. Those who follow the bitter politics of envy should understand that every system of ordering human affairs produces both the rich and the poor. In our current situation, what cats are fatter than the political elite? As of 2008, two-thirds of our Senators were millionaires, and all of them enjoy lavish perks, incredible benefits, and gold-plated retirements, including plush lobbying and consulting jobs… when they’re unlucky enough to fall through the few holes in a 90% incumbent re-election safety net. Many of our representatives, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, live like royalty by abusing their power. Every nickel of a politician’s fortune comes directly from your pocket, without your willing consent to purchase products or services.

The lens of socialist envy is rather selective about which targets to focus upon. Its political allies are never presented to the public as object of hatred. Neither are those with enough popularity to insulate them from criticism, such as entertainers and professional athletes. Anyone who supports the Left out of hatred for the evil rich would benefit from considering a list of the fabulously wealthy people they have not been instructed to hate. ...

Read it here. Whether we can pop the pustule of socialism without a dramatic, and possibly violent collapse of the system remains to be seen.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Time keepers

Tonight's horological oddities, via artist Maarten Baas:

From the video's description:
... This clock does not actually have a man inside but a flatscreen that plays a 24 hour loop of this video by the artist watching his own clock somewhere and painstakingly erasing and re-writing each minute. This video was taken at Design Miami during Art Basel Miami Beach 2009. ...

Here's another one:

It's the Constitution, stupid: What the Tea Partiers really want

From Ron Futrell at Big Journalism:
... Saturday on CNN, Don Lemon had political consultant David Gergen on and they wrestled over whether the movement was racist because they only saw one black person in the crowd at the Sarah Palin speech before the Tea Party Convention. They should’ve invited Kenneth Gladney on the show and asked him. Gladney was the man who was smacked around by SEIU thugs at a Tea Party rally in St. Louis. The activist old media doesn’t know Gladney’s story because he’s a conservative minority Tea Party participant and they don’t want that story. I met Gladney at a Tea Party rally in Las Vegas and found him to be a fine man with a fascinating story. I bought a couple flags from him that I proudly hang in my office. The activist old media might want to ask him what this movement is about – warning – be prepared, he will give you the right answer, but it will not be the answer you want to hear. I know, I asked him.

With that, let me tell you what the Tea Party movement wants. I will make it simple and straightforward and easy for all to understand — I will put it in all CAPS and type slowly:


There it is. I said it, one simple sentence.

The Democrats and its activist old media want to find “leaders” for the Tea Party movement. They feel that the only worthwhile political movement must have direction from a man (or woman—but mainly men). They saw the movements led by Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini and feel that there must be a dynamic personality for people to follow in order for it to be significant. That same game plan was followed in the 2008 presidential election: find a dynamic leader who fits with the values of larger, more intrusive government, and follow him.

They also want a “leader” of the Tea Party movement so that they can destroy that person. ...

Read it here. The political classes and their media lackeys have been desperately trying to discredit the Tea Party movement. Key to that strategy is identifying and destroying its leaders. Once those leaders are identified, will anyone be surprised if SWAT teams of "investigative reporters" are deployed to rummage though their trash in hopes of finding some salacious detail around which to wrap a campaign of disinformation and deceit to destroy that person and his or her family? If you doubt that will be the old time media approach, just ask Sarah Palin.

The key to the Tea Party's resiliency will be its ability to remain distributed, hydra-like -- cut off one head and two will take its place. Centralization in this case will likely be a death sentence to the movement, because centralization is susceptible to an effective decapitation strategy. Distributed organizational structures, with elements capable of autonomous action towards their strategic objectives, have an innate resiliency to this type of attack.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Musical interlude

Tonight's musical interlude - Jerry's Breakdown composed by Jerry Reed, played by Antoine Dufour and Tommy Gauthier on a single guitar:

An interview with Justice Clarence Thomas

Via The Anchoress, comes this interview with one of my favorite jurists, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

View it here. About 90 minutes long.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A few pennies

Tonight's "What should I do with with all these pennies?" project - a penny pyramid with 289,318 pennies, evidently a world record:

Boom time for government employees

From Rich Lowry, writing in the NY Post:
For most Americans, the Great Recession has been an occasion to hold on for dear life. For public employees, it's been an occasion to let the good times roll.

The percentage of federal civil servants making more than $100,000 a year jumped from 14 percent to 19 percent during the first year and a half of the recession, according to USA Today. At the beginning of the downturn, the Transportation Department had one person making $170,000 or more a year; now it has 1,690 making more than that. [emphasis added]

The New York Times reports that state and local governments have added a net 110,000 jobs since the start of the recession, while the private sector's lost 6.9 million. The gap between total compensation of public and private workers has only widened during the downturn, according to USA Today. In 2008, benefits for public employees grew at a rate three times that of private employees.

Public employees have developed an inverse relationship to the rest of the economy -- as it shrinks, shedding jobs and cutting salaries, they draw on a never-ending taxpayer bounty. It used to be said that the Great Depression wasn't so bad, if you had a job. The Great Recession has practically been a boom, if you have a government job.

Public employees can thank the union label. In 2009, for the first time ever, a majority of union members worked in the public sector. Unionism has been in a long, secular decline in the private sector (down to 7.2 percent of all workers), but increasing in government (up to 37.4 percent of all workers). ...

Read the rest here. One in five FedGov employees makes over $100,000. Your tax dollars hard at work. Or not.

Don't have enough crimes? Invent some

From the formerly Great Britain:
Labour has introduced 14,300 new offences since taking office in 1997, with Gordon Brown's administration inventing crimes at a rate of more than one a day.

Thanks to Labour, it is now illegal to swim in the wreck of the Titanic or to sell game birds killed on a Sunday or Christmas Day – eventualities overlooked by previous governments.

Labour has made 4,289 activities illegal since the 1997 election, at a rate of about one a day – twice the speed with which the previous Conservative government created crimes.

Gordon Brown was the worst offender, with his government inventing 33 new crimes a month. Tony Blair's administration made 27 new offences each month.

Some of the more inventive crimes dreamt up by Labour include "disturbing a pack of eggs when directed not to by an authorised officer" and reporting the door of a merchant ship to be closed and locked when it isn't. ...

Article here. As Ayn Rand observed in Atlas Shrugged,
"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt."

British PM Gordon Brown would no doubt have approved, along with most of our ruling class in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Unofficial state mottos

Tonight's unofficial state mottos:
Alabama: Yes, We Have Electricity

Alaska: Jeez, it’s cold.

Arizona: But It’s A Dry Heat

Arkansas: Literacy Ain’t Everything

California: By 30, Our Women Have More Plastic Than Your Honda

Colorado: If You Don’t Ski, Don’t Bother

Connecticut: Like Massachusetts, Only The Kennedys Don’t Own It Yet

Delaware: We Really Do Like The Chemicals In Our Water

Florida: Ask Us About Our Grandkids

Georgia: We Put The “Fun” In Fundamentalist Extremism

Hawaii: Haka Tiki Mou Sha’ami Leeki Toru (Death To Mainland Scum, But Leave Your Money)

Idaho: More Than Just Potatoes. Well Okay, Not Really, But The Potatoes Sure Are Real Good

Illinois: Please Don’t Pronounce the “S”

Indiana: 2 Billion Years Tidal Wave Free

Iowa: We Do Amazing Things With Corn

Kansas: First Of The Rectangle States

Kentucky: Five Million People; Fifteen Last Names

Louisiana: We’re Not ALL Drunk Cajun Wackos, But That’s Our Tourism Campaign

Maine: We’re Really Cold, But We Have Cheap Lobster

Maryland: If You Can Dream It, We Can Tax It

Massachusetts: Our Taxes Are Lower Than Sweden’s (For Most Tax Brackets)

Michigan: First Line Of Defense From The Canadians

Minnesota: 10,000 Lakes And 10,000,000,000,000 Mosquitoes

Mississippi: Come And Feel Better About Your Own State

Missouri: Your Federal Flood Relief Tax Dollars At Work

Montana: Land Of The Big Sky, The Unabomber, Right-Wing Crazies, And Very Little Else

Nebraska: Ask Us About Our State Motto Contest

Nevada: Whores and Poker!

New Hampshire: Go Away And Leave Us Alone

New Jersey: You Want A ##$%##! Motto? I Got Yer ##$%##! Motto Right Here!

New Mexico: Lizards Make Excellent Pets

New York: You Have The Right To Remain Silent, You Have The Right To An Attorney

North Carolina: Tobacco Is A Vegetable

North Dakota: We Really Are One Of The 50 States!

Ohio: Where one of your dad’s friends lives

Oklahoma: Like The Play, Only No Singing

Oregon: Spotted Owl – It’s What’s For Dinner

Pennsylvania: Cook With Coal

Rhode Island: We’re Not REALLY An Island

South Carolina: Remember The Civil War? We Didn’t Actually Surrender

South Dakota: Closer Than North Dakota

Tennessee: The Educashun State

Texas: Si’ Hablo Ing’les (Yes, I Speak English)

Utah: Our Jesus Is Better Than Your Jesus

Vermont: Yep

Virginia: Who Says Big Government Stiffs And Slackjaw Yokels Don’t Mix?

Washington: Help! We’re Overrun By Nerds And Slackers!

Washington, D.C.: Wanna Be Mayor?

West Virginia: One Big Happy Family – Really!

Wisconsin: Come Cut The Cheese

Wisconsin: Come Smell our Dairy Air

Wyoming: Where Men Are Men (And the Sheep Are Scared)


Retirements push Social Security to brink

From USA Today, on the looming Social Security crisis:
WASHINGTON — Social Security's annual surplus nearly evaporated in 2009 for the first time in 25 years as the recession led hundreds of thousands of workers to retire or claim disability.

The impact of the recession is likely to hit the giant retirement system even harder this year and next. The Congressional Budget Office had projected it would operate in the red in 2010 and 2011, but a deeper economic slump could make those losses larger than anticipated.

"Things are a little bit worse than had been expected," says Stephen Goss, chief actuary for the Social Security Administration. "Clearly, we're going to be negative for a year or two."

Since 1984, Social Security has raked in more in payroll taxes than it has paid in benefits, accumulating a $2.5 trillion trust fund. But because the government uses the trust fund to pay for other programs, tax increases, spending cuts or new borrowing will be required to make up the difference between taxes collected and benefits owed.

Experts say the trend points to a more basic problem for Social Security: looming retirements by Baby Boomers will create annual losses beginning in 2016 or 2017. ...

Read the rest here. If Social Security was barely cash flow positive in 2009, and likely cash flow negative this year or next, just think what shape it will be in when the wave of Baby Boomers start retiring in a few years. Given that the only thing in the Social Security "trust fund" is a bunch of IOUs from the federal government (said FedGov having gleefully spent the actual money), anyone who thinks existing benefit levels are sustainable or will be honored is delusional.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Counting cash

Tonight's cultural anthropology lesson, fiat currency edition:

Obama the Prayerful

Kinda, sorta. Or maybe not. S.E. Cupp discusses the President's Prayer Breakfast catastrophe:
... Never mind that the president skipped last year’s National Day of Prayer, covered up religious insignia at Georgetown, canceled the flyover at “God & Country Day,” and gives regular shout-outs to atheists whenever it is, in fact, least appropriate.

Like today. During his speech at the Prayer Breakfast the president was sure to point out – again – that not everyone in America believes in God. He’s right, of course, but wouldn’t you think that at a prayer breakfast, he’d direct his remarks primarily to the population that prays? The humanist salute to solstice does not, in fact, count as a “prayer.”

While today’s speech was perhaps the president’s most muscular discussion of faith to date, it was rife with incongruities and contradictions that reveal just how incomplete his understanding of American faith actually is, regardless of what Ms. Kornblut tells us an unnamed adviser said.

The worst misstep of today’s speech? When the president said that “God’s grace” is expressed “by Americans of every faith, and no faith, uniting around a common purpose, a higher purpose.”

Uh, no it isn't -- unless my definition of atheism is different than his. Most atheists insist that God’s grace most certainly is not expressed through them, and that there are no “higher” purposes. While we may all come together for “a purpose” – like relief work in Haiti, poverty, AIDS, or world hunger – no atheist I know would consider this God's work.

It’s time the president end this hooey, and give up on his obsessive need to equate belief and non-belief. They are apples and oranges, and every time he does this he sounds less like the scholar he’s supposed to be and more like a petulant child.

But wait, there were other bizarre moments today:

Christ is nowhere to be found: The president is supposedly a Christian, yet there wasn’t a single mention of Christ or Jesus in today’s speech. ...

Read the rest at the link above.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cubic illusion

Tonight's illusion - a cube made with blue painters masking tape:

Of solar storms and the electric grid

From a New Scientist article published last year discussing a NASA-funded study by the National Academy of Sciences of the effects of a severe solar storm on the electrical grid:
IT IS midnight on 22 September 2012 and the skies above Manhattan are filled with a flickering curtain of colourful light. Few New Yorkers have seen the aurora this far south but their fascination is short-lived. Within a few seconds, electric bulbs dim and flicker, then become unusually bright for a fleeting moment. Then all the lights in the state go out. Within 90 seconds, the entire eastern half of the US is without power.

A year later and millions of Americans are dead and the nation's infrastructure lies in tatters. The World Bank declares America a developing nation. Europe, Scandinavia, China and Japan are also struggling to recover from the same fateful event - a violent storm, 150 million kilometres away on the surface of the sun.

It sounds ridiculous. Surely the sun couldn't create so profound a disaster on Earth. Yet an extraordinary report funded by NASA and issued by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in January this year claims it could do just that.

Over the last few decades, western civilisations have busily sown the seeds of their own destruction. Our modern way of life, with its reliance on technology, has unwittingly exposed us to an extraordinary danger: plasma balls spewed from the surface of the sun could wipe out our power grids, with catastrophic consequences.

The projections of just how catastrophic make chilling reading. "We're moving closer and closer to the edge of a possible disaster," says Daniel Baker, a space weather expert based at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and chair of the NAS committee responsible for the report.

It is hard to conceive of the sun wiping out a large amount of our hard-earned progress. Nevertheless, it is possible. The surface of the sun is a roiling mass of plasma - charged high-energy particles - some of which escape the surface and travel through space as the solar wind. From time to time, that wind carries a billion-tonne glob of plasma, a fireball known as a coronal mass ejection (see "When hell comes to Earth"). If one should hit the Earth's magnetic shield, the result could be truly devastating. ...

Read the rest here.

More reasons to homeschool

Go read this post over at Gun Rights For Us All for more examples of your tax dollars either not so hard at work, or else busy destroying America. Got homeschool?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Digital guitar

Tonight's unusual musical instrument - a digital guitar, from Misa Digital. According to the video's description, it runs on Linux:

Hunting licenses up 3.5% in 2009

From Buckeye Firearms Association:
In a year when one word, "fewer," described life in America -- fewer jobs, fewer home sales, fewer purchases -- hunters were responsible for generating a welcome "more" category, as hunting license sales rose by 3.5 percent in 2009 in states that make up NSSF's Hunting License Sales Index.

The 12-state index comprises several states from four main regions of the United States. Nine of those states recorded hunting license sales increases from January through December of 2009 over the previous year, according to Southwick Associates, a research firm that monitored the license sales information.

"Many factors such as weather and the economy affect hunting license sales in any given year, but in 2009 the economy likely had a more significant effect," said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF's director of industry research and analysis. "While the reasons for the 3.5 percent increase are speculative, past research shows that during slowdowns in the nation's economy it is possible that people have more time to hunt and that hunters take the opportunity to fill their freezers with nutritious, high-protein meat acquired at lower cost than if a similar amount was purchased at the supermarket." ...

Read it here. I think the increased sense of self-reliance that comes with hunting is also a factor, as well as the potential to fill your freezer with meat more cheaply than store-bought meat. For similar reasons, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the number of those buying fishing licenses is also up.

More Zero Intelligence from school administrators, New York edition

From the NY Daily News:
An irate Staten Island mom blasted a grade school principal Wednesday for treating her son like a pint-sized Plaxico Burress after he brought a 2-inch-long toy gun to school.

(Patrick Timoney, 9, with plastic gun - barely 2 inches long - that nearly got him suspended after PS 52 Principal Evelyn Mastroianni (below) took action. Photo: NY Daily News)

"This principal is a bully and a coward, and needs to be held accountable," said Laura Timoney, 44, after her teary fourth-grader was nearly suspended for playing with the tiny toy at lunch.

"The school should be embarrassed. This is a common-sense issue."

Patrick Timoney, 9, was terrified when he was yanked into the principal's office to discuss the teeny-weeny plastic "weapon."

"The gun was so little," the boy said. "I don't understand why the principal got so upset. I was a little nervous. They made me sign a statement."

Patrick and a friend were playing with Lego figures in the school cafeteria on Tuesday when he pulled out the faux machine gun and stuck it in the hands of his plastic police officer.

Boom! Trouble ensued, with Patrick's mom getting a phone call from Public School 52 Principal Evelyn Mastroianni saying her son had somehow gone from straight A's to the NRA. ...

Read it here. As you can see from the photo, it doesn't take much to incur the wrath of a public school principal. I'm surprised the principal didn't call for the SWAT team. Remember, these hoplophobic school administrators are the same idiots in charge of educating your children. Got homeschool?

Taleb says 'every human' should short U.S. Treasuries

From Bloomberg:
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” said “every single human being” should bet U.S. Treasury bonds will decline, citing the policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and the Obama administration.

It’s “a no brainer” to sell short Treasuries, Taleb, a principal at Universa Investments LP in Santa Monica, California, said at a conference in Moscow today. “Every single human being should have that trade.”

Taleb said investors should bet on a rise in long-term U.S. Treasury yields, which move inversely to prices, as long as Bernanke and White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers are in office, without being more specific. Nouriel Roubini, the New York University professor who predicted the credit crisis, also said at the conference that the U.S. dollar will weaken against Asian and “commodity” currencies such as the Brazilian real over the next two or three years.

The Fed and U.S. agencies have lent, spent or guaranteed $9.66 trillion to lift the economy from the worst recession since the Great Depression, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Bernanke, who in December 2008 slashed the central bank’s target rate for overnight loans between banks to virtually zero, flooded the economy with more than $1 trillion in the largest monetary expansion in U.S. history.

In a short sale, an investor borrows a security and sells it, expecting to profit from a decline by repurchasing it later at a lower price.

“Dynamite in the Hands of Children”

President Barack Obama has increased the U.S. marketable debt to a record $7.27 trillion as he tries to sustain the recovery from last year’s recession. The Obama administration projects the U.S. budget deficit will rise to a record $1.6 trillion in the 2011 fiscal year.

“Deficits are like putting dynamite in the hands of children,” Taleb said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “They can get out of control very quickly.” ...

Article here.

The Creditor and the Plastic Duck Junkie

Today's balance of trade fable:

Got tangible assets?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Penny shooter business card

Tonight's fun business card:

Utah Senate gives initial approval to Firearms Freedom Act

From the Beehive State:
SALT LAKE CITY — Guns made and kept in Utah would be exempt from federal regulations under a measure the Utah Senate gave its initial approval to Tuesday, despite concerns it could lead to a costly legal fight in a lean budget year.

Senate Bill 11 mirrors one signed into law in Montana last year that's intended to trigger a federal court battle.

Both are intended to allow guns made in their respective states to be exempt from rules on federal gun registration, background checks and dealer-licensing.

The goal is to circumvent federal authority over interstate commerce, which is the legal basis for most gun regulation in the United States.

In the process, it could lead to small arms dealers in the state operating with little to no oversight.

Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said her bill is part of a broader effort to send a message to Congress that the federal government is overstepping its bounds.

"This is about our state's immutable right to establish control of our own rules and laws in our state," she said.

The Senate approved Dayton's bill 19-10. It needs one more formal vote before advancing to the House. ...

Article here.

U.K. home owners average violent burglar attack every 30 minutes

Thank goodness those enlightened Brits banned guns. Now, they ought to ban burglary:
A householder is attacked by a violent burglar every 30 minutes.

The shocking statistic exposes for the first time the epidemic of terrifying intruder confrontations taking place in Britain.

It will intensify demands for householders to be given greater protection if they use force to protect themselves and their family against a burglar.

In the wake of the case of Munir Hussain, who was jailed and later freed for beating a raider, ministers insisted it was extremely rare for a person to find themselves in trouble with the police for fighting back against a burglar.

But with householders suffering violence on 23,000 occasions last year, campaigners say the case for a change to the law is growing ever stronger. ...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Yike Bike

Tonight's curious transportation -- the YikeBike, designed by a New Zealand company and billed as the world's smallest, lightest folding electric bicycle, weighing in at about 10 Kg (22 lbs):

And here's a video showing its maneuverability:

The tax man looking for a few good shotguns

The FedGov tax men really want you to pay your "fair share". Or else:
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) intends to purchase sixty Remington Model 870 Police RAMAC #24587 12 gauge pump-action shotguns for the Criminal Investigation Division. The Remington parkerized shotguns, with fourteen inch barrel, modified choke, Wilson Combat Ghost Ring rear sight and XS4 Contour Bead front sight, Knoxx Reduced Recoil Adjustable Stock, and Speedfeed ribbed black forend, are designated as the only shotguns authorized for IRS duty based on compatibility with IRS existing shotgun inventory, certified armorer and combat training and protocol, maintenance, and parts.

Submit quotes including 11% Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax (FAET) and shipping to Washington DC. ...

Blog template updated

I've updated the column widths on the blog template (finally!) to fix the annoying clipping of wide-format videos (typically YouTube vids). I think the wider columns also enhance text readability a little.

Why did it take me so long to fix this? Well, the previous version of Firefox 3.5.x simply placed oversized videos into the sidebar area, so they were still fully viewable, even if the sidebar got obscured temporarily (until new posts pushed the offending videos down); the current version of Firefox (v3.6) seems to truncate the video if it's too wide. So the wider columns fix this -- no more truncated videos!

Obviously, this shouldn't affect those readers who use RSS readers like Google Reader to read the posts. If any readers have problems with the new format, however, let me know either via a comment to this post, or via the email address on the (now unobscured) sidebar.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Let's get cracking

Tonight's accidental nudity, bobsled edition - British bobsledder Gillian Cooke displays her, uh, assets on the two woman bobsled course at the world championships in Switzerland last month:

In defense of drunken sailors

Mish gets taken to task for likening out-of-control spending politicians to drunken sailors:

I can’t take it anymore. I need to take a stand. Right here. Right now. Lately, so much hate and vitriol has been directed at drunken sailors.

Why has it become so chic in the blogosphere to make the analogy that the Congress, the States, the Municipalities all spend like drunken sailors? Why the sudden urge to besmirch, dare I say libel, drunken sailors?

I assure you, a drunken sailor is a harmless creature. I speak from experience. I have been a drunken sailor. Many of my best friends have been drunken sailors.

Whereas from my perspective, all flavors of government inflict great harm. To infer a resemblance between a politician and a drunken sailor should be actionable!

When pulling into a foreign port after many weeks or months at sea with the world’s finest navy, I always looked forward to sampling the native’s libations. Yes, I got hammered.

However, when I ran out of money I STOPPED DRINKING! I didn’t club the patron on the bar stool next to me over the head and rob him so I could continue drinking. I didn’t call me wife and ask her to cash in the kids college funds so I could continue drinking. I didn’t write my unborn grandkids an IOU so I could continue drinking. I just stopped and stumbled back to the liberty launch for a cheeseburger. I knew I’d have some cash next payday and I could hit the bars and clubs in the next liberty port. [emphasis added]

So please, no more comparisons of deficit spending politicians to harmless drunken sailors. Drunken sailors have feelings too.

I guess we could liken politicians to whores, but the whores, er, "sex workers" could probably make a similarly good argument against such a comparison.

Solar Flares and EMP

From Clifford May, writing in National Review:
... The EMP commission also reported that Iran — which is feverishly working to acquire nuclear weapons — has conducted tests in which it launched missiles and exploded warheads at high altitudes. The CIA has translated Iranian military journals in which EMP attacks against the U.S. are explicitly discussed.

Might Iran’s rulers orchestrate such an attack if and when they acquire nuclear capability? That is a heated debate among defense experts. But what is almost never discussed is the threat of a naturally occurring EMP event.

I first learned about this possibility a few months ago at a conference organized by Empact America, a bipartisan, non-profit organization concerned exclusively with the EMP challenge. Scientists there explained “severe space weather” — in particular, storms on the surface of the sun that could trigger an EMP event.

The strongest solar storm on record is the Carrington Event of 1859, named after Richard Carrington, an astronomer who witnessed the super solar flare that set off the event as he was projecting an image of the sun onto a white screen. In those days, of course, there was nothing much to damage. A high-intensity burst of electromagnetic energy shot through telegraph lines, disrupting communications, shocking technicians, and setting their papers on fire. Northern Lights were visible as far south as Cuba and Hawaii. But otherwise life went on as normal.

The same would not be true were a solar storm of similar magnitude to erupt today. Instead, the infrastructure we depend on would be wiped out. Most of us would not adapt well to this sudden return to a pre-industrial age. ...

Article here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Unconventional condom uses

Tonight's condom versatility video:

This is too easy

From Finem Respice, comes these observations [occasional profanity at link]:
... What faces the Legislature, the Executive (and perhaps even the Judiciary) in the months and years to come is going to be anything but easy. The days of pouring deficit spending into housing, public employees, defined benefit plans, state subsidies and any other problem that manages to show its head above water for a sufficient interval are numbered. Someone is going to have to face the sorry task of explaining to the American people that, when you actually add it all up, the debt comes to almost $550,000 for each and every household in the United States, and that successive Comptroller Generals of the United States have been trying to get people to pay attention for five or ten years.

In an environment where even discussing shifting social security age eligibility by a few months can bring down the angry fist of voter wrath with such violence that even the CBO looks for cover, how are leaders today going to break the news that there is simply no water-boarding procedure severe enough to torture Social Security math past the point where it gives up enough money to pay for even a substantial fraction baby boomers? When something as trivial as a $1 trillion dollar health plan results in the forfeiture of god-given progressive birthrights like "The Kennedy Seat," what sort of effect might $30+ trillion in unfunded Medicare have when the bill comes due and remains unpaid?

Sure, it is nice to fantasize that the latest "republican revolution" means something in the grand scheme of things, but if American politics are "played inside of the 40 yard lines," then neither party is anywhere close to possessing the testicular fortitude to handle real fiscal reform. Balancing the budget today (which does nothing except stop the hemorrhaging for a while) would require no less than 35% across-the-board cuts in government spending- and this totally ignores the massive off-budget items that have become so fashionable to spin off. To say that Obama, who despite his Chicago machine pedigree couldn't seem to fix the Olympics RFP even with Oprah batting clean-up, isn't up to the task is stating the matter mildly. ...

Monday, February 1, 2010

War movie making on a budget

Tonight's the-power-of-editing video - a shoestring recreation of the storming of Omaha Beach for a scene in a BBC documentary. The music's kinda crappy, but the video's interesting:

From the video's description:
Bloody omaha was created by Colin Thornton, Neil Wilson and Steven Flynn who run the graphics company Compost Creatuve .

The music used Is Two Tribes by Frankie goes to Hollywood.

Team Compost headed out to Omaha Beach for 4 days armed with a Z1 camera, a pop up greenscreen, some soldier uniforms and 2 rubber rifles (we couldnt afford 3), and begun the process of covering the beach (with camera on the cliff top), and re-enacting the veterans moving accounts. When back in London (and back in our real day job) we began to piece together all wed shot using adobe after effects, (and a little 3d modelling in maya) turning the 3 of us into the invading U.S. army.
6 Weeks later the work was completed and provides a moving insight to the U.S veterans memories of storming Omaha beach, for BBC 2's Timewatch: Bloody Omaha.

More Washington, all the time

Mark Steyn gives us his acerbic take on The Mighty Kenyan's State of the Union address:
The world turns.

In Indonesia, the principal of a Muslim boarding school in Tangerang who is accused of impregnating a 15-year-old student says the DNA test will prove that a malevolent genie is the real father.

In New Zealand, a German tourist, Herr Hans Kurt Kubus, has been jailed for attempting to board a plane at Christchurch with 44 live lizards in his underpants.

In Britain, a research team at King’s College, London, has declared that the female “G-spot” does not, in fact, exist.

In France a group of top gynecologists led by M. Sylvain Mimoun has dismissed the findings, and said what do you expect if you ask a group of Englishmen to try to find a woman’s erogenous zone.

But in America Barack Obama is talking.

Talking, talking, talking. He talked for 70 minutes at the State of the Union. No matter how many geckos you shoveled down your briefs, you still lost all feeling in your legs. And still he talked. If you had an erogenous zone before he started, by the end it was undetectable even to Frenchmen. But on he talked. As respected poverty advocate Sen. John Edwards commented, “After the first hour, even my malevolent genie was back in the bottle.”

Like any gifted orator, the president knows how to vary the talk with a little light and shade. Sometimes he hectors, sometimes he whines, sometimes he demands. He hectored the Supreme Court. He whined about all the problems he inherited. He demanded Congress put a jobs bill on his desk. Or was it a desk job on his bill? No matter. He does Nixon impressions, too: “We do not quit,” he said.

Boy, you can say that again!

So he did: “We don’t quit. I don’t quit,” he said. Throughout the chamber, Democrats were quitting. “I quit,” says Rep. Marion Berry of Arkanas, declining to run this November. “I quit,” says Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, doing likewise. “I quit,” says Beau Biden of Delaware, son of Vice President Joe Biden, choosing not to succeed to his father’s seat in America’s House of Lords.

But not Barack Obama: “I don’t quit.” So on he went. As my colleague Rich Lowry put it after the Massachusetts vote, the public thinks Obama doesn’t get it, and Obama thinks the public doesn’t get it. And as he’s got the microphone, he’s gonna keep talking at you until you do get it. ...

Read the rest here.