Overnight Open Thread (1-27-2015)
What the American public doesn't know is what makes them the American public.
-- Ray Zalinsky, car parts entrepreneur
And the American public clearly want to get rid of the Public Affairs Act because of its continuing ill effects on the country:
Many weeks back I wrote here about the polls from the 1990s in which a majority of Democrats favored repealing the Public Affairs Act of 1975 because Bill Clinton was said to recommended repeal, with the punch line being that there is no such thing as the Public Affairs Act of 1975. It was a contrivance of pollsters to check on public ignorance.
And also want government-mandated labels on all food containing DNA. For the children.
A recent survey by the Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics finds that over 80 percent of Americans support "mandatory labels on foods containing DNA," about the same number as support mandatory labeling of GMO foods "produced with genetic engineering." Oklahoma State economist Jayson Lusk has some additional details on the survey. If the government does impose mandatory labeling on foods containing DNA, perhaps the label might look something like this:
"WARNING: This product contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The Surgeon General has determined that DNA is linked to a variety of diseases in both animals and humans. In some configurations, it is a risk factor for cancer and heart disease. Pregnant women are at very high risk of passing on DNA to their children."
Oh and approximately half of all Americans approve of the job that President Obama is doing.
Well the public in general knows so little about so much - but it turns out that that doesn't necessarily make them irrational or incapable of making decent public policy choices.
One recent headline summed it up: "British Public wrong about nearly everything, and I'd bet good money that it isn't just the British who are exceptionally misinformed.
This looks like a problem for democracy, which supposes a rational and informed public opinion. But perhaps it isn't, at least according to a body of political science research neatly summarised by Will Jennings in his chapter of a new book "Sex, lies & the ballot box: 50 things you need to know about British elections".
But they're ignorant - not stupid - and can still tell which way the trends are blowing even if they're off on the absolute state of things. Which is one reason pollsters focus so much on the right track/wrong track results.
Will's chapter discusses the "public opinion as thermostat" theory. This, briefly, is that the public can be misinformed about absolute statistics, but we can still change our strength of feeling in an appropriate way. So, for example, we may be misled about the absolute unemployment rate, but can still discern whether unemployment is getting better or worse. There's evidence to support this view, and the chapter includes this striking graph (reproduced with permission), showing the percentage of people saying "unemployment" is the most important issue facing the country against the actual unemployment rate . As you can see public opinion tracks reality with remarkable accuracy.
Unsafe to wear a Star of David or a kippah in the streets of Malmo, Sweden:
The result: "He received direct threats as he walked through the city," according to expressen.se.
Lindgren, walking with a hidden camera and microphone alongside, recorded every step. The report showed the reporter enduring verbal abuse by a man who called him a "Jewish s***" and told him to "leave." Another person hit him and shouted "Satan Jew," at him.
As they approached the the city's neighborhoods with higher Muslim populations, the threats only increased. Some 20 percent of the 300,000 residents of Sweden's third-largest city are Muslim, according to statistics.
And by the same Michael Moore logic wouldn't that make every single pilot or artillery crew also cowards? If you give the enemy a fair shot in wartime, you're not doing it right.
A group of Stanford students have discovered a way to access their own confidential admissions files - including comments by admissions officers, criticisms of their applications, and information about how their status as minorities, athletes, or legacies affected their applications.
The staff of an anonymous Stanford publication called The Fountain Hopper is encouraging thousands of students at Stanford and other universities nationwide to request their own files, potentially cracking open the secretive and controversial world of elite colleges admissions.
...If you go to HarvardNotFair.org, you'll find yourself on a page that says this: Were You Denied Admission to Harvard? It may be because you're the wrong race.
Need moar chicks?
Now the NYT reports on recent research on why some groups, like some people, are reliably smarter than others. In one study, researchers grouped 697 volunteer participants into teams of two to five members. Each team worked together to complete a series of short tasks, which were selected to represent the varied kinds of problems that groups are called upon to solve in the real world. One task involved logical analysis, another brainstorming; others emphasized coordination, planning and moral reasoning. Teams with higher average I.Q.s didn't score much higher on collective intelligence tasks than did teams with lower average I.Q.s. Nor did teams with more extroverted people, or teams whose members reported feeling more motivated to contribute to their group's success. Instead, the smartest teams were distinguished by three characteristics (PDF). First, their members contributed more equally to the team's discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group. Second, their members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible. Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. It appeared that it was not "diversity" (having equal numbers of men and women) that mattered for a team's intelligence, but simply having more women. This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at "mindreading" than men. Interestingly enough, a second study has now replicated the these findings for teams that worked together online communicating purely by typing messages into a browser .
I'll have to show this to Mrs. Maetenloch as further justification for my recent drone purchase.
Weapons man takes a look back at gun magazines from 1964 and finds that their cover stories mainly covered single-shot and bolt-action rifles and the occasional revolver. Semi-auto guns weren't covered at all.
What didn't show up, of course, is a modern military or military-style weapon, or even a semi-auto. Most of the guns shown on the cover of Guns 50 years ago were single-shots. It wasn't just the covers that were missing these rifles; there are very few stories inside the magazines about military weapon development. Don't take our word for it; download the magazines and check them out yourself. Guns has made them freely available for us.
But in the very last issue of 1964 something appeared that was nothing at all like anything else seen in any of the magazines and would go on to dominate the firearms market five decades later.
Tonight's post brought to you by Kilimanjaro:
Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips to maetenloch at gmail. Otherwise send tips to Ace.
Close it up
Geraghty Handicaps the Field in Iowa
An interesting observation on Carly Fiorino and her run for Vice President (though she won't admit that), and how nice an attack dog she'd make against Hillary.
And Open Thread.
On the Run: General Testifies that Al Qaeda Has Grown "Fourfold" In Last Five Years
Take a bow, Obama. We know you love applause.
"AQ and its affiliates exceeds Iran in beginning to dominate multiple countries," retired four-star Gen. Jack Keane testified.
Using a term that the Obama administration now eschews, Keane called radical Islam "the major security challenge of our generation."
That leads to an "unmistakable" conclusion that "our policies have failed," Keane added.
"And the unequivocal explanation is U.S. policy has focused on disengaging from the Middle East, while our stated policy is pivoting to the east," he said. "U.S. policymakers choose to ignore the very harsh realities of the rise of radical Islam. In my view, we became paralyzed by the fear of adverse consequences in the Middle East after fighting two wars. Moreover, as we sit here this morning, in the face of radical Islam, U.S. policymakers refuse to accurately name the movement as radical Islam. We further choose not to define it, nor explain its ideology, and most critical, we have no comprehensive strategy to stop it or defeat it."
Meanwhile, on Obama's Triumphant Stage of Libya, #SmartPower is having some unintended (?) but predictable results.
At least 10 people and two attackers were killed in Tuesday's attack against the luxurious Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, Libya, a spokesman for a security division of the Ministry of Interior in Tripoli said.
Five foreigners -- one American, one French citizen, and three people from Tajikistan -- were killed in the attack, Essam al-Naas said. Five Libyans were killed.
Al-Naas said it appears the attackers were Libyans.
American contractor David Berry was among the people killed in a terrorist attack at the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, Libya, on Tuesday, according to Cliff Taylor, chief executive officer of Crucible, a security firm where Berry was working. The FBI is expected to open an investigation into the incident, two U.S. officials told CNN. A State Department official confirmed the death of a U.S. citizen, but would provide no further information.
An online group that supports ISIS said the attack was carried out in the name of Abu Anas al-Libi.
Al-Libi was an alleged al Qaeda operative accused of involvement in the bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa. He was captured by U.S. special forces in Libya. He died in a U.S. hospital this month.
I'm sure you've heard about Obama's tremendous successes in Yemen, where terrorists have overrun the capital and forced our embassy to be shuttered.
Claim: Disney Eyeing Guardian of the Galaxy's Chris Pratt for Indiana Jones in New Raiders Reboot
As Indy, my once and maybe future all-time favorite Action Hero...?
Eh, Indy's smart. Not a genius, but up there. I know Chris Pratt has mostly played dumb-guy roles, and I shouldn't typecast him, but... Okay I'll say, I don't think he can come across as smart enough to play Indy.
Meanwhile, they're casting him opposite Denzel Washington in a... Magnificent Seven remake. I assume Denzel will play the Yul Brenner role, because bald.
Meanwhile x2, yeah, they're serious about doing the all-girl Ghostbusters remake. Here's your cast:
Okay, Kristin Wiig, fine, I like her (though most don't).
Melissa McCarthy? Are we all still pretending we find her schtick as refreshing and wild as we pretended to find it in 2009? Are we not yet tired of her?
The other two are two lame cast members from the very awful current season of Saturday Night Live. I don't know their names. I just know I see clips of them sometimes.
These clips are so funny that I, get this, forget to laugh.
Well, Hollywood exists to teach us one lesson:
Life is horrible and the human imagination is worse.
Oh: Good Men Did Nothing, so they went ahead and did a new Fantastic Four reboot.
After the Snowstorm That Could Destroy New York Drops Less Than a Foot on the City, Weathermen and Politicians Apologize For -- or Defend -- Their Climate Alarmism
You know why they do this, right?
Apart from Global Warming, I mean. Though that's a big part of it.
It also goes to the media's calculated 2005 decision to turn a hurricane for which the local Democratic Mayor and the local Democratic Governor had all responsibility into George W. Bush's Weather Watergate.
Now, of course the media only did that Because Bush. They're not going to apply the same absurd rules to other people.
But other politicians can't be sure. After all, the media is 1 corrupt 2 stupid 3 immature 4 borderline insane; who knows the next time the media will claim All of This Weather Is YOUR FAULT?!
So, now it's accepted that government officials will essentially declare Martial Law on a whim. Martial Law has become mainstreamed, thanks to our viciously incompetent media.
After being a promised a blizzard of historic and catastrophic proportions on Monday, New York City residents woke up today to rather meager snow totals and a lot of questions for their public officials.
In the media capital of the world, however, the howls are loud after predictions of [snowfall in NYC specifically of] 30 inches or more fizzled into somewhere closer to five or six. Meteorologists are even apologizing for their somewhat overblown predictions.
The focus, in particular, seems to be about the decision to shut down New York City at 11:00 p.m. Tuesday night. All roads in the region (not just in the city, but in Connecticut and New Jersey, as well) were closed to non-emergency traffic, but Governor Andrew Cuomo also made the unprecedented decision to preemptively shut down the entire NYC subway system. That's never happened in the 100-plus years of the subways due to snow.
Yet, by 11:00 p.m., it was already becoming clear that such a move was likely going to be unnecessary. That confusion quickly turned to outrage after a report by The Brooklyn Paper that the subway was actually still running. In order to keep the power on and the tracks clear, the MTA continued to shuttle empty trains all throughout the system and was planning to all along. It was apparently Cuomo's decision to shut the system to passengers, a move that caught MTA off guard and appeared to be unnecessary.
Naturally, some people are upset about the overreaction. It's one thing to clear the streets of cars, but the subway is the lifeline of the city, particularly for those people who work third-shift jobs or have family and friends in other boroughs. Cries of "nanny state"-ism, political posturing, or just plain cowardice are ringing out today.
These high-handed, alarmist, panicky, lawless actions are being defended on grounds of "safety."
This is not an overblown statement: All forms of fascism and totalitarianism proceed under the guise of securing the public's "safety and security." I don't think you can cite a single time where fascism did not ride upon twin horses named Public Safety and Public Security.
We seem to becoming jaded by frequent assertions of dictatorial power for this claimed emergency or that imagined crisis.
And let us be clear about things: Cuomo did not do this to "protect the public safety." He did this to protect his own political safety.
Let us stop pretending to believe the most ridiculous lies of politicians. Let us start dealing forthrightly with one another.
Cuomo thought he should and could do this to spare him a potential three to five point drop in the polls. We should tell him that covering his soft political ass is not a mighty enough justification to start ordering American Citizens about as if they were conscripts in a third world army.
Meanwhile, weathermen, who are to Science what drummers are to rock bands, shriek a lot about every snowstorm and blizzard because these are the few times each year that women pay them any sort of attention.
Though some are of course still claiming they were So Right to be So Wrong.
However, Uccellini stressed erring on the side of caution and planning for the worst was "the right decision" given the potential for "extraordinary" snow totals.
You know, it probably just sounds like smart-alec sophomorism to claim that weather dweebs overstate the danger of bad weather in order to draw attention to themselves.
It may sound that way, but it's true.
People are strongly motivated, often unconsciously, sometimes quite consciously, by simple personal interest. All persons wish to acquire social capital. All people want to advance up the bricks of the giant social pyramid.
It may sound stupid to accuse professionals of using their credentials to accrue social capital, but it is actually far more stupid than to claim the opposite -- that a "professional," by virtue of his tinpot license, has somehow been elevated above and beyond human behavioral imperatives and can so now be trusted to act entirely without the taint of self interest, much like Angels or God.
All of these people "talk their own book" and only a fool credits them otherwise.
Liberal Jonathan Chait Pens Microgressive Triggering Attack on "Political Correctness"
Worth a read. I put "political correctness" in quotes in deference to Noah Rothman's observation that the militancy of what we're seeing now may transcend the notion of "political correctness" and simply become full-on Stalinist thought control or Orwellian newspeak.
Whatever term you use, it is bad and getting worse.
So much so that even liberals are getting angry about it -- and exhausted by it.
I'll pass over the long recapitulation of the various anti-speech sins the left is guilty of later, though they're worth reading about. I just assume you've read them or need little convincing on this point.
On to conclusions:
At a growing number of campuses, professors now attach “trigger warnings” to texts that may upset students, and there is a campaign to eradicate “microaggressions,” or small social slights that might cause searing trauma. These newly fashionable terms merely repackage a central tenet of the first p.c. movement: that people should be expected to treat even faintly unpleasant ideas or behaviors as full-scale offenses. Stanford recently canceled a performance of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson after protests by Native American students. UCLA students staged a sit-in to protest microaggressions such as when a professor corrected a student’s decision to spell the word indigenous with an uppercase I — one example of many "perceived grammatical choices that in actuality reflect ideologies." A theater group at Mount Holyoke College recently announced it would no longer put on The Vagina Monologues in part because the material excludes women without vaginas. These sorts of episodes now hardly even qualify as exceptional.
But it would be a mistake to categorize today’s p.c. culture as only an academic phenomenon. Political correctness is a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate. Two decades ago, the only communities where the left could exert such hegemonic control lay within academia, which gave it an influence on intellectual life far out of proportion to its numeric size. Today's political correctness flourishes most consequentially on social media, where it enjoys a frisson of cool and vast new cultural reach. And since social media is also now the milieu that hosts most political debate, the new p.c. has attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old.
In a short period of time, the p.c. movement has assumed a towering presence in the psychic space of politically active people in general and the left in particular. "All over social media, there dwell armies of unpaid but widely read commentators, ready to launch hashtag campaigns and circulate Change.org petitions in response to the slightest of identity-politics missteps," Rebecca Traister wrote recently in The New Republic.
Two and a half years ago, Hanna Rosin, a liberal journalist and longtime friend, wrote a book called The End of Men, which argued that a confluence of social and economic changes left women in a better position going forward than men, who were struggling to adapt to a new postindustrial order. Rosin, a self-identified feminist, has found herself unexpectedly assailed by feminist critics, who found her message of long-term female empowerment complacent and insufficiently concerned with the continuing reality of sexism. One Twitter hashtag, “#RIPpatriarchy,” became a label for critics to lampoon her thesis. Every new continuing demonstration of gender discrimination --a survey showing Americans still prefer male bosses; a person noticing a man on the subway occupying a seat and a half — would be tweeted out along with a mocking #RIPpatriarchy.
Let me stop right here and offer Chait, and Rosin, some constructive criticism. It is as this point that the typical Political Correctness Mob Enforcer will object and say, "But we're just using Our Speech to mock Rosin; how can it be 'anti-free-speech' to employ our own speech? In fact, you're 'anti-free-speech' person here by attempting to de-legitimize my free speech vis a vis Rosin."
Chait doesn't address this; he just leaves this argument hanging for the PC Enforcement Goons to deploy. (And they will; they always do.)
They're wrong, but it needs to be said why they're wrong.
The reason is this: There is a difference between Rosin's rational argument and the coordinated attacks of a mob.
Mobs do not "argue." They intimidate or humiliate (or both). Mobs do not engage in an enlightened, reasonable dialogue. They shout ritualized chants. Mobs are not interested in persuading someone of their wrongness of their claims; they only care about shutting the speaker up, whether he's changed his mind or not.
An argument from a single author (or group acting together to write a single paper) is an instrument of reason; a mob which selects a target and then attacks that target with wolf-pack like tactics is an instrument of emotion.
Human beings are in fact hard-wired, as an evolutionary matter, to cringe before the baying mob; and they are further hard-wired to feel empowered by being part of an angry, screaming mob.
So it's not quite true that joining up with a mob is "speech" just like any other speech. The "speech" of a mob is emotionally abusive and personally intimidating -- and it is hardwired into our brains to find it such, when directed at we ourselves.
On the other hand, we're also hard-wired to really enjoy leading a mob against someone. It feels good. There is no denying that; I've felt damned good everytime I've joined up with a mob.
And it is precisely because it Feels So Good to engage in coordinated mob cruelty that thoughtful people must resist the lure and call out mobs where they see them.
Hannah Rosin was not dissuaded from making further public arguments along these lines because she was convinced she had been wrong in offering them originally. She was dissuaded from speaking further because of the threat of continuing group coordinated emotional attacks against her.
Thus, the frequent objection to PC Tactics: that they are "exhausting." Well yes, but why? Many arguments and claims are wrong, but we don't say they're exhausting too often. (Tedious, perhaps; exhausting, more rarely.)
We say things are "exhausting" when the speaker (or mob of shouters) decides to bypass the cool route of reason to advance the case and instead resorts to the emotional levers of group hazing, ritual chanting, coordinate ostracism and humiliation, and the inherent intimidation of a coordinated and angry mob acting, as mobs are want to do, without any reason or restraint.
And that is the difference.
Now, the PC Mob types will reject this distinction because -- and listen closely here-- most of them are Stupid and Inarticulate; most of them are in fact incapable, on a mental or emotional level, of making an academic or at least essay-like case.
They are in fact low-thinkers. It is no accident that they favor the brutish, the primate-like, the animal-level sorts of "persuasions" of group hooting and feces-throwing. They favor this because this is what they are capable of, and no other.
Thus, in a very real sense, to insist on the standards of rational discourse with such people does in fact predjudice them; it is the same as insisting a horse walk on two legs to enter a race. It is the same as disqualifying them outright.
They sense this, and so they reject these calls to employ the classic techniques of reason and analysis in making their case. They know such grounds do not favor their brains. They know yelling and coordinating Social Shaming is the most they're capable of.
Nonetheless, though such rules may in fact disqualify a number of base-thinkers from public argumentation, they must be insisted on all the same. They always were insisted on -- at least before the last round of democratization struck upon the idea that equality must now mean that a man's stupidity and ignorance should never be held against him -- and to continue ignoring them simply permits the hostile, seething emotional Coordinated Yelling of mob "argument" into a realm of enlightened exchange which, definitionally, must exclude such persons (or such tactics, at least).
If you don't understand the actual problem -- that the "speech" of the mobbers and shouter-downers is qualitatively different from the actual speech of those who deal in cooler, more lucid streams of communication -- then you cannot actually define what it is these PC Goons are doing wrong. On a surface level, of course, they are right-- they are just "using speech themselves."
But it's a toxic sort of speech, loaded with dark emotion and actual hatred which is entirely antithetical to dispassionate analysis.
In fact, the PC Goons seem to understand this more than the liberal critics of PC thuggery. Chait turns to discussing a women writer's forum called "Binders Full of Women Writers," in which minority women can't seem to help but play their PC Victim Cards on the non-minority women.
And they're very upfront at the Age of Enlightened Discourse had its chance already, and that the new Age of Screaming Hate At Everyone should be given its chance:
On July 10, for instance, one member in Los Angeles started a conversation urging all participants to practice higher levels of racial awareness. "Without calling anyone out specifically, I'm going to note that if you're discussing a contentious thread, and shooting the breeze … take a look at the faces in the user icons in that discussion," she wrote. "Binders is pretty diverse, but if you’re not seeing many WOC/non-binary POC in your discussion, it’s quite possible that there are problematic assumptions being stated without being challenged.” ('POC' stands for 'people of color.' 'WOC' means 'women of color.' 'Non-binary' describes people who are either transgender or identify as a gender other than traditionally male or female.)
Jesus Christ, that was already exhausting and he hasn't gotten to the exhausting part yet.
Two members responded lightly, one suggesting that such 'call-outs' be addressed in private conversation and another joking that she was a 'gluten free Jewish WWC' -- or Woman Without Color. This set off more jokes and a vicious backlash. 'It seems appropriate to hijack my suggestion with jokes. I see,' the Los Angeles member replied. 'Apparently whatever WOC have to say is good for snark and jokes,' wrote another. Others continued: 'The level of belittling, derailing, crappy jokes, and all around insensitivity here is astounding and also makes me feel very unsafe in this Big Binder.' 'It is literally fucking insane. I am appalled and embarrassed.'
The suggestion that a call-out be communicated privately met with even deeper rage. A poet in Texas: 'I'm not about to private message folks who have problematic racist, transphobic, anti-immigrant, and/or sexist language.' The L.A. member: 'Because when POC speak on these conversations with snark and upset, we get Tone Argumented at [these people fly off with rage when you suggest that They need to "police their tone," by which I mean frothing hatred, a little better themselves -- ace], and I don't really want to deal with the potential harm to me and mine." ...A white Toronto member, sensing the group had dramatically underreacted, moved to rectify the situation: “'ESUS FUCK, LIKE SERIOUSLY FUCK, I SEE MORE WHITE BINDERS POLICING WOC AND DEMANDING TO BE EDUCATED/UNEDUCATED AS IF IT’S A FUCKING NOBLE MISSION RATHER THAN I DUNNO SPEND TIME SHUTTING DOWN AND SHITTING ON RACIST DOUCHE CANOE BEHAVIOUR; WHAT ARE YOU GAINING BY THIS? WHAT ARE YOU DETRACTING? YOU NEED SCREENCAPS OF BURNING CROSSES TO BELIEVE RACIST SHIT IS HAPPENING? THIS THREAD IS PAINFUL. HUGS TO ALL THE WOC DURING THIS THREAD"
Chait notes, rather obliquely, that the PC system has created what is essentially a Speaker Caste System with some speakers' being in higher castes, and thus more privileged (and thus willing to churn out ALL CAPS RAGE without expecting to be called on it (and in fact getting even more ALL CAPS RAGEY if they are called on it)), and others being in lower castes, and thus quite disadvantaged, and only really permitted to apologize and beg forgiveness whenever someone in a Higher Speaker Caste demands they do.
It should be pointed out that the "exhausting" behavior that he documents is caused by this caste system. Good behavior is not in everyone's personal interest; rather, it is in the group's best interest, but, as in many cases, it is personally best for an individual if he is free to break the group's rules of decorum while everyone else in the group is required to follow them.
Privileging certain speakers -- the more female, the more black or minority, the more gay or trans or other sexual ethnicity -- thereby empowers them to break the normal rules of social interaction as they may please, resorting to personal attacks and ALL CAPS RAGE at the drop of the hat.
And then of course there are plenty of opportunistic and crude white people who will claim to be Honorary Minorities and thus entitled to use such tactics as well.
This is exhausting. All similar behaviors are exhausting. When people exhibit such exhausting behaviors, we generally exclude them from further participation, because we just won't put up with that crap.
But we have many people who now believe that they are Privileged to belong to a Higher Speaker Caste and may employ any number of emotionally-angry and abusive tactics in what should be rather light conversation (all academic conversation is "light;" compare it to talking to you doctor about a surgery) that are forbidden to everyone else, and in fact have been forbidden for 3000 years of intellectual history.
It's time to reinstate those rules -- for all comers. Even for those who claim some minority status which puts them above your White Man's "rules" of civilized debate.
NBCNews: Bowe Bergdahl, the Deserter, Will Face Charges of Desertion for Deserting His Unit
So glad we gave up five important Al Qaeda terrorists to get Baby Bowe back.
The television network, citing senior defense officials, said the charges could come within a week.
Blackmail: Openly Gay Legislator Threatens to Expose Colleagues' Extra-Marital Affairs if They Don't Vote Her Way on Gay Marriage
Were she just some sort of moral crusader who ran on a platform of righteous values and then went around exposing all such incidents she definitively knew of, that would be one thing. But this is a fit of pique stemming from her disagreement with the policy positions of opponents. She is claiming to be aware of these alleged cases of married legislators having affairs, but she is willing to continue to hold her silence about the sins provided they shut their mouths and don’t speak out on issues where she disagrees with them. If she was such a moral crusader who felt this information was important to the public she should have already exposed them, regardless of party affiliation or sexual orientation. (Yes, gay people can be unfaithful too.) But that's not what she's doing. What’s going on here is known by a much more ugly word: extortion.
Yeah, people generally don't seem to understand what blackmail is. You're allowed to reveal someone's secrets -- there is no law against that. The media does that, of course, every day.
It becomes blackmail -- and criminal -- when you threaten to reveal secrets unless the target either takes an action you demand or refrains from taking an action you demand. The demand does not need to be for money (in most jurisdictions); obviously, a particularly nasty form of blackmail -- sexual blackmail -- demands not money but sexual favors.
Camille Pissarro, "Berneval Meadows, Morning" (1900)
Economics and Plato's Cave
If you had occasion to take a Philosophy 101 course in college, you may remember the allegory of Plato's cave. Plato meant it as a discussion of what "reality" is -- whether it is an absolute thing, and whether humans can experience "reality" in its totality or if we are limited only to what we can experience and measure. The idea is that what we can sense and measure is only a subset of a larger reality that we cannot perceive directly.
I've long thought that this allegory works quite well for economics in many ways, especially as it pertains to concepts of money and wealth.
Take a dollar out out of your pocket and look at it. What is it? It's many things, actually: it is money, so it must be a store of wealth, a unit of account, and a medium of exchange; it is a manufactured good, intended by its manufacturer to be used as currency; it is a work of engravers' art; it is a complex piece of technology (especially modern bills with the various anti-counterfeiting countermeasures); it is a carrier for the oils, dirt, and germs of the people who have handled it; and so on.
You can think of money as a special kind of battery, only instead of storing electricity, it stores up economic value which can be expended at a later time. And just as a battery can store energy but not create it, money can store value but not create it.
It turns out that this dollar bill is a pretty complex object, all things considered. And yet it isn't a "real" thing in the sense Plato was speaking of. Whatever else it may be, a dollar is not in itself valuable; it is rather a signifier of a real thing we cannot see directly. A unit of money -- whether a dollar, a franc, a pound, or a quatloo -- is only "real" insofar as it signifies some existing value in the economy. (We can think of some value as being latent as opposed to realized, as it often is with investments. We invest in expectation of value being created and providing some kind of return on the investment. No value appears spontaneously out of the void. The invested capital is based on already-existing assets; a return is only realized if the endeavor creates additional value. Interest income or dividends don't just magically materialize -- interest income is your share of the value added and payment for the time-value of the money you invested. Nothing comes from nothing, as Parmenides reminds us.)
That dollar you hold in your hand is the shadow cast by something of value in the world of real things.*
If that much is true, then it follows that the dollar's purpose, its whole reason for existing, is bound up in the real-world thing that casts the shadow. Without the real-world good or service, there can be no shadow cast on the wall for us to see. If that connection is broken between signifier and signified, a good or service and the money that carries its value into the marketplace, then money loses its fabulous utility and becomes just a piece of ornately-printed paper.
That's why it's so important for us to talk about economics in terms of the real physical world (or at least the part of it we can interact with and experience), because this is where scarcity operates. The world of real things, where the allocation of scarce resources drives every economic engine, is where we have to anchor our understanding of economics. Money -- and all the complexity of finance, monetary and tax policy, etc. -- happens at a higher order of abstraction. Money is not value; money signifies value. Money allows value to move about on the marketplace in a fairly fluid and transparent fashion. Money is a carrier, not a generator, of value.
One of the major problems in the world economy right now is that this fundamental link between money and the world of real things has become terribly attenuated. This is partly due to the near-universal move to fiat currencies; partly due to the securitization of much of the economy (allowing investors to leverage at ratios from 10-to-1 all the way to 100-to-1 or more); and the increasing indebtedness of the world's sovereign governments. We are behaving as if the concept of "scarcity" no longer applies.
This mindset has caused a lot of problems, but the most pernicious is in the corruption of the pricing mechanism. The pricing mechanism is how a marketplace determines the value of a good or service, by using supply and demand to adjust prices upward or downward. Prices are not fixed; a good or service is worth what the market will bear. (In an efficient economy, prices will adjust to market-clearing levels.) However, this mechanism has been systematically undermined by governments, particularly during the age of fiat currency. Governments and their central banks attempt to harness market forces to move in the direction they desire, but often cause unintended (and harmful) side-effects.
As a result, it is becoming very difficult for the market to accurately price an asset. It's hard to tell what a good or service is actually worth, because the pricing mechanism of the market has been systematically (and deliberately) corrupted over the past several decades. Both supply and demand have been manipulated to the point that a "natural market state" is almost impossible to determine, which has the knock-on effect of breaking the pricing mechanism. This makes both investing and consumer purchasing far less efficient in market terms.
Governments and their central banks believe they know what prices should be, but they suffer from Hayek's "knowledge problem" -- they cannot fathom the amazing complexity of the national economy well enough to know what prices ought to be for the myriad goods and services, even to a rough approximation. Communist governments in the 20th century tried the central-planning approach and failed miserably, but it seems like the supposedly-capitalist governments of the 21st century have not taken those lessons to heart. Over-regulation, interest-rate manipulation, bad laws, a focus on financial tricks rather than productive output, and out-of-control entitlement spending (hence higher taxes), chronic and systematic indebtedness -- all are components of the problem.
If you remember nothing else about economics, remember this: money only signifies value insofar as it maintains a link to the world of real things. When that anchor is broken, an economy loses coherence because it becomes impossible to set an accurate price on any good or service. A marketplace without accurate prices is not a market at all, but a gambling den. You might get value for your money, and you might not.
In a sense, one of those real things that a dollar represents is something that cannot be touched, or felt, or seen: trust. Trust has real-world value (it is one of the most valuable commodities there is!), and it is in fact the most essential kind of value a fiat currency must anchor to.
*One way in which the Plato's Cave allegory doesn't work well in the monetary sense is when considering an essential property of money: fungibility. For money to be money, it must be fungible -- that is, a dollar bill is exactly like any other dollar bill in terms of how it behaves in a monetary sense. I can buy a candy bar with any dollar, not just one specific dollar. The Plato's Cave allegory draws a 1-to-1 linkage between the "real" object we cannot perceive and the shadow we can perceive, but with money it is more like a probabilistic wavefront that only collapses when you spend the dollar.
This means that, in the economic sense, our "shadow" of a real world good or service is not a particular dollar but any dollar.
Close it up
Tuesday Morning News Dump
- Sarah Palin Slips Into Self Parody
- Conservative Grassroots Bloggers Moving On From 2008 Heartthrob Palin
- What Eurocrats Really Fear, Greece Quits And Thrives
- Timex Or Rolex
- Winter Storm Not As Bad As Anticipated
- Are Today's Mllennials A New Victorian Generation
- New Yorker's Take To Craigslist To Find Blizzard Buddies
- Fireman Faces The Ax Over Anti-Affirmative Action T-Shirt
- Al Sharpton Vs. The Teleprompter Part: 4
- Feds Nab Russia Spy Posing As Banker(autoplay video)
- Russia Helping To Fund Green Movements In The United States
- Falling Gas Tax Revenue Has CA Considering A Mileage Tax
- Return Of The 3% Down Payment
- Kit Carson Passed Away
Overnight Open Thread (1-26-2015)
By playing them over and over and over again and then repeating the rotation every 6 hours or so.
Now I like all of these songs which is to say that I liked them the first few times I heard them and can still listen to them again on occasion and derive some small amount of pleasure from the experience. But I judge how burned out I am on a song by my maximum tolerable repeat frequency for it i.e. how soon could I hear it again without getting annoyed/enraged.
For some songs I could hear them once a week in perpetuity because I just love them so but others are only good once in a 4 month period or maybe once in a year. And for some - well I could easily go three to seven years before hearing them again with no problem at all. But on the radio I'm pretty much guaranteed to hear at least once of these in any 36 hour period.
1. "More Than a Feeling" by Boston
In my humble opinion, the most overplayed classic rock song of all time. It's like there's a federal mandate that all classic rock stations play this song at least 19 times per day.
2. "Hotel California" by The Eagles
Full of meaning - of how the hippie ethic turned materialistic and sour.. Kind of like this song. Honestly, I think I loved this song at one time, but it's dead to me now.. Yet, no matter how many times I stab it with my steely knife, I just can't kill the beast.
3. "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey
What would happen if a renegade classic rock DJ actually decided to, instead of playing this song, play something by Uriah Heep, Kaleidoscope or The Pretty Things? Widespread panic in the streets.
9. "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd40. "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard
This song never gets old.. Then again, never say never. After the 752nd time around, it starts getting wearisome. The song references Neil Young, who happens to have a vast catalog of tunes worthy of classic rock radio, yet never get played. "Heart of Gold" on occasion, but his other billion songs don't have a chance.
I include this one last, because it's "newer". If you think your favorite song is safe because it came out after the early 80s, think again. On occasion, they'll incorporate latecomers. No song is safe.
The diabolical part of the progressive welfare agenda has been that once you get enough people on the government teat and accustomed to it, it then becomes politically impossible to ever get rid of the teat. It's even more diabolical when you can convince the people that it's not even really a welfare teat because they've already paid something into the program.
More than twice as many households receive "anti-poverty" benefits than receive Social Security or Medicare. Between 1983 and 2012, the population increased by almost 83 million - and people accepting means-tested benefits increased by 67 million. So, for every 100-person increase in the population there was an 80-person increase in the recipients of means-tested payments. Food stamp recipients increased from 19 million to 51 million - more than the combined populations of 24 states.
What has changed? Not the portion of the estimated population below the poverty line (15.2 percent in 1983; 15 percent in 2012). Rather, poverty programs have become untethered from the official designation of poverty: In 2012, more than half the recipients were not classified as poor but accepted being treated as needy. Expanding dependency requires erasing Americans' traditional distinction between the deserving and the undeserving poor. This distinction was rooted in this nation's exceptional sense that poverty is not the unalterable accident of birth and is related to traditions of generosity arising from immigrant and settler experiences....Eberstadt believes that the entitlement state poses "character challenges" because it powerfully promotes certain habits, including habits of mind. These include corruption. Since 1970, Americans have become healthier, work has become less physically stressful, the workplace has become safer - and claims from Social Security Disability Insurance have increased almost sixfold. Such claims (including fraudulent ones) are gateways to a plethora of other payments.
Earlier in the week, I discussed the Obama administration's proposal to tax earnings on so-called 529 college savings plans, part of a package of tax hikes that will pay for new programs such as his proposal to make the first two years of community college free. This has been touted as a plan to hike taxes on the rich to help the middle class, but in fact it's more of a plan to redistribute money from the upper middle class to the lower middle class.
...Why did I find that particular question a compelling topic for a column? Because it's a question we may have to ask ourselves. As I observed when I first wrote about the plan, the very fact that we are discussing taxation of educational savings - redistributing educational subsidies downward - indicates that the administration has started scraping the bottom of the barrel when seeking out money to fund new programs. Why target a tax benefit that goes to a lot of your supporters (and donors), that tickles one of the sweetest spots in American politics (subsidizing higher education), and that will hit a lot of people who make less than the $250,000 a year that has become the administration's de facto definition of "rich"?Presumably, because you're running out of other places to get the money.
The Democratic Party Has Got Issues
Lest you think the GOP has a monopoly on problems.
Or why the majority of Muslims being peaceful doesn't really matter. It's the absolute number of those who are not that can destroy a society.
I go to a Muslim boulanger in Paris whose French bread and pastries are as good as any in the vicinity; and, if anything, I have a prejudice in favor of patronizing his shop precisely to encourage and reward his successful integration. And he is only one of many cases that I know.
Unfortunately, this is not as reassuring as it sounds, because a handful of fanatics can easily have a much more significant social effect than a large number of peaceful citizens. There is more to fear in one terrorist than to celebrate in 99 well-integrated immigrants. And if only 1 percent of French Muslims were inclined to terrorism, this would still be more than 50,000 people, more than enough to create havoc in a society. The jihadists now have a large pool from which to draw, and there are good reasons to think that more than 1 percent of young Muslims in France are distinctly anti-French. The number of young French jihadists fighting in Syria is estimated to be 1,200, equal to 1 percent in numbers of the French army, and probably not many fewer than the number of Algerian guerrillas fighting during much of the Algerian War of Independence.
Apparently not. I suspect that people in general have a mostly pre-wired level of anxiety and stress and technological deices just provide outlet for any underlying tensions and compulsions.
The Pew and Rutgers researchers measured stress levels in a representative group of people by using a standard stress scale that ranks people's responses to questions about their lives. Then they measured their frequency of digital technology use. They controlled for demographic factors like marital and education status.
They found no effect on stress levels among technology users over all. And women who frequently use Twitter, email and photo-sharing apps scored 21 percent lower on the stress scale than those who did not.
That could be because sharing life events enhances well-being, social scientists say, and women tend to do it more than men both online and off. Technology seems to provide "a low-demand and easily accessible coping mechanism that is not experienced or taken advantage of by men," the report said.
Social media, particularly Facebook, increased stress in one way: by making people more aware of trauma in the lives of close friends. This effect was strongest for women. The finding bolsters the notion that stress can be contagious, the Pew and Rutgers researchers said.But when such users of social media were exposed to stressful events in the lives of people who were not close friends, the users reported lower stress levels. Researchers said that was perhaps attributable to gratitude for their own lives being free of these stressors (the joy of missing out, offsetting the fear of missing out.)
Stomp on the gas in a new Ford Mustang or F-150 and you'll hear a meaty, throaty rumble - the same style of roar that Americans have associated with auto power and performance for decades. Now Drew Harwell reports at the Washington Post that the auto industry's dirty little secret is that the engine growl in some of America's best-selling cars and trucks is actually a finely tuned bit of lip-syncing, boosted through special pipes or digitally faked altogether. "Fake engine noise has become one of the auto industry's dirty little secrets, with automakers from BMW to Volkswagen turning to a sound-boosting bag of tricks," writes Harwell. "Without them, today's more fuel-efficient engines would sound far quieter and, automakers worry, seemingly less powerful, potentially pushing buyers away." For example Ford sound engineers and developers worked on an "Active Noise Control" system on the 2015 Mustang EcoBoost that amplifies the engine's purr through the car speakers. Afterward, the automaker surveyed members of Mustang fan clubs on which processed "sound concepts" they most enjoyed.
Statistics say it's one of these:
I may have added a few personal hunches to the list.
So where are you going to get your electric dog washer or zombie yard statue now?
The parent company behind the whimsical, wonderfully weird catalog - a mainstay in the seat-back pocket of commercial flights for decades - has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As part of the process (and if a bankruptcy court grants approval), Xhibit Corp will do its best to find a buyer for SkyMall. "We are extremely disappointed in this result and are hopeful that SkyMall and the iconic 'SkyMall' brand find a home to continue to operate as SkyMall has for the last 25 years," said Scott Wiley, the company's acting CEO.
...In many of those situations, it was picked up because travelers forgot to bring along a book or magazine for the flight. But now, everyone's got a smartphone or tablet in their carry-on, and in court filings, Wiley said that's become a real problem for SkyMall. "With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalog," he said. Simply put, SkyMall is no longer the default boredom cure it once was. The website remains in business for now, so it's not too late to spend $1,000 on some Hovertrax or get yourself this $200 bear statue.
The Yahoo AoSHQ group - it's got electrolytes.
And my twitter thang.
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Close it up
The Prosecutor Who Was About to Deliver a Scathing Report Accusing Agentine President Kirchner of Covering up an Iranian Terrorist Attack Was Killed to Hurt Kirchner's Political Viability, Opines Kircher
21 years ago, Argentina suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history when the AMIA building, a Jewish community center, was bombed.
It has long been believed that Iran was behind the bombing.
A prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, was about to deliver a report claiming that Iran was in fact behind the bombing, and that furthermore the current Argentine President had struck a deal with Iran to cover up their role in exchange for some payoffs in the form of oil.
That prosecutor turned up dead with a pointblank range shot from a .22 in the middle of his forehead.
"Suicide," the official investigators claimed.
"Murder," the entire rest of the nation whispered.
"A conspiracy to create a political headache for me," President Kirchner said.
She's a Hugo Chavez protege with, get this, a history of extra-legal action and poor-me conspiracy theories.
Kirchner wasted little time in branding the death a suicide Jan. 19. "What drives a person to commit such a terrible act?" she posted on her Facebook. Most everyone else called it murder. Nisman, after all, had just accused Kirchner of trying to whitewash his 10-year investigation into the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people.
Nisman had blamed Iran for the attack and last week charged Kirchner and some of her closest aides with obstructing his probe in order to smooth a deal to sell Argentine grain for Iranian oil. He was due to brief lawmakers on his 289-page complaint to the Supreme Court in a closed session of Congress on Monday. The complaint was made public Jan. 22.
Now Kirchner has flipped the narrative, spinning a dark tale of rogue spies and an anti-government cabal. Allegedly, these conspirators plotted to execute Nisman -- not to silence a dangerous critic, but to pin his murder on her. "Today I have no proof but I also have no doubts," she said in a sprawling statement posted Jan. 22 on her personal webpage. "Nisman didn't know and probably never would," she wrote. "They used him while he was alive and later needed him dead. It's that sad and terrible."
The turnabout caught Kirchner's palace handlers off guard. "This is totally disconcerting," an unnamed presidential aide told Clarin.
It gets worse.
Why kill Nisman after so many years?
Because, it is alleged, that among the Iranians who participated in the decision to bomb the AMIA buliding was none other than the current president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani.
An Argentine prosecutor who died mysteriously last week told a reporter prior to his death that he had evidence tying Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.
The Washington Free Beacon first reported that Rouhani was part of the secretive Iranian government committee that approved the AMIA bombing, according to witness testimony included in a 500-page indictment written by the late Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was appointed to investigate the attack.
The bombing, which killed 85 and injured hundreds, is believed to have been authorized by Iran and carried out by its terror proxy Hezbollah. Nisman’s indictment implicated numerous high-profile Iranian officials in the attack and prompted Interpol to issue "red notices" for their arrests.
Kirchner now says Nisman was killed by a "rogue" government operative, which I take to mean "a government operative carrying out my will whom I now wish to deny."
And get this:
BREAKING: President Kirchner dissolves Argentine intelligence service after prosecutor death. (AFP)— Breaking News (@NewsOnTheMin) January 26, 2015
Interesting times, eh?
More: Some guy claims that Nisman asked him to deliver him a .22 handgun the night before he was killed.
The New York Times, February, 2014: "The End of Snow?"
The New York Times wrote about the snow-less future less than one year ago.
As the New York media freaks out over some Weather That Matters (in as much as it affects them), enjoy this panicky nonsense from last year.
OVER the next two weeks, hundreds of millions of people will watch Americans like Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin ski for gold on the downhill alpine course. Television crews will pan across epic vistas of the rugged Caucasus Mountains, draped with brilliant white ski slopes. What viewers might not see is the 16 million cubic feet of snow that was stored under insulated blankets last year to make sure those slopes remained white, or the hundreds of snow-making guns that have been running around the clock to keep them that way.
Officials canceled two Olympic test events last February in Sochi after several days of temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and a lack of snowfall had left ski trails bare and brown in spots. That situation led the climatologist Daniel Scott, a professor of global change and tourism at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, to analyze potential venues for future Winter Games. His thought was that with a rise in the average global temperature of more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit possible by 2100, there might not be that many snowy regions left in which to hold the Games. He concluded that of the 19 cities that have hosted the Winter Olympics, as few as 10 might be cold enough by midcentury to host them again. By 2100, that number shrinks to 6.
The planet has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1800s, and as a result, snow is melting. In the last 47 years, a million square miles of spring snow cover has disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere. Europe has lost half of its Alpine glacial ice since the 1850s, and if climate change is not reined in, two-thirds of European ski resorts will be likely to close by 2100.
The same could happen in the United States, where in the Northeast, more than half of the 103 ski resorts may no longer be viable in 30 years because of warmer winters....
The facts are straightforward: The planet is getting hotter. Snow melts above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The Alps are warming two to three times faster than the worldwide average, possibly because of global circulation patterns. Since 1970, the rate of winter warming per decade in the United States has been triple the rate of the previous 75 years, with the strongest trends in the Northern regions of the country. Nine of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000, and this winter is already looking to be one of the driest on record -- with California at just 12 percent of its average snowpack in January, and the Pacific Northwest at around 50 percent.
It's easy to blame the big oil companies and the billions of dollars they spend on influencing the media and popular opinion. But the real reason is a lack of knowledge. I know, because I, too, was ignorant until I began researching the issue for a book on the future of snow.
Meanwhile, at Slate, their Weather Spastic is busy churning out these shrieky blurbs:
And then when you click you find out it means only this:
NWS in Boston is still stressing that this blizzard could permanently alter the geography of the Massachusetts coastline:
"This is a storm that could produce one or more new inlets along exposed east and northeast facing barrier beaches. We are especially concerned with the erosion potential for east facing shorelines along Plum Island, Orleans, Chatham and Nantucket."
Um, yes, storm water may erode barrier beaches, and may make some inlets through these sandbars.
Or, as the Weather Spastic put it: "Permanently alter the coast of New England."
See, either there's not going to be any snow and we should Spaz Out About It, or we're getting some snow and it may Destroy the Earth's Mantle.
Either way, you must pay attention to the shriekey, squealey Weather Spastics.
Either way you will pay them the honor of pretending they're important.
Obama Surges in Popularity, With Only Half the County Now Hating His Guts
I didn't want to do this story because Reasons but so AllahPundit took the bullet and typed it all up nice and neat so you can read it there.
I'll put up something better to stomp/bury this one soon.
Michael Moore: When You Think About It, I'm the Real Hero, Not That Coward Chris Kyle
Tomorrow's Sunday School (1) What Would Jesus Do? Oh, I know what he'd do -- hide on top of a roof and shoot people in the back!— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 24, 2015
Sunday School: (2) But What Would Jesus Do if he could be a sniper & save soldiers lives by shooting "savages" in the back? ANSWER...— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 24, 2015
Instead of being a sniper to protect our troops, I tried to save their lives by stopping Bush from sending them to their deaths in Iraq.— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 24, 2015
you're why god invented Diabetes @MMFlint— LeContredicteur (@AceofSpadesHQ) January 26, 2015
What an ugly, viciously obese toad-like monster.
Mark Hemingway tries to understand the left's unreasoning hatred towards this movie. (Part of their unreasoning hatred towards pretty much everything, of course.)
Even American Sniper largely sidesteps the big political questions about the war on terror. The film is primarily about the heroism of soldiers who, thrust into battle by larger forces, do their best to protect each other and innocent Iraqis. Clint Eastwood, often described as one of the few prominent right-wingers in Hollywood, opposed the invasion of Iraq and questioned the invasion of Afghanistan.
Even so, the film's lack of left-wing politics has been treated in some quarters as an unpardonable sin. "The mere act of trying to make a typically Hollywoodian one-note fairy tale set in the middle of the insane moral morass that is/was the Iraq occupation is both dumber and more arrogant than anything George Bush or even Dick Cheney ever tried," wrote Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi. In other words, any account of Kyle's personal heroism is somehow invalid unless it is couched in an extraneous political context tarring the war he fought in as immoral.
While this criticism is myopic and unfair, it’s at least preferable to direct attacks on Kyle and service in Iraq. "My uncle [was] killed by [a] sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot [you] in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders [are] worse," tweeted left-wing documentary filmmaker Michael Moore.
The left has tried to avoid the anti-American stain it acquired in the Vietnam era by making sure to mouth platitudes about supporting the troops while criticizing the war. The reaction to American Sniper seems to suggest this pose is insincere. Either you’re rooting for Kyle and his fellow soldiers or you're rooting for AQI. There is no middle ground in American Sniper. The film simply asks audiences to consider the motivations of American soldiers on the ground in Iraq, and then asks whether or not these motivations make them heroic. This may be a difficult question for Michael Moore, but the film and its rapturous audiences answer it with a resounding yes.
Shock: Obama, the Committed Income-Redistributionist (Though the Media Swore He Was No Such Thing!) Now Expressly Going After the Middle Class' Education Savings to Shower Money on His Constituents
There are two kinds of people in the world.
Those who do the right thing, and those who don't.
Those who do the right thing don't need a lot of help from others because they're doing the right thing. They go to work, don't get hooked on drugs, stay married, save money.
Those who don't do the right thing need constant help.
The Wall Street Journal euphemizes Obama's plan to take money from the Middle Class to make it rain on his voters as new "challenges" faced by the middle class.
The Obama Presidency stands for nothing if not the proposition that those who do the right thing will be punished and harassed constantly so that those who will not do the right thing never have to face any consequences of their bad habits.
President Barack Obama's push to start taxing college-saving accounts, including the popular "529" accounts, would affect millions of Americans who are stashing money for their children’s education, stirring debate about how to structure federal student aid and how to define the middle class.
Remember, Obama branded his dishonest State of the Union as "Middle Class Economics." And he claimed to wish to make college more affordable for the "Middle Class."
Of course that means he'll make it less affordable for the Middle Class. Because he's a demagogic liar.
The proposal, which has sparked a public backlash but faces dim prospects in Congress, targets so-called 529 savings accounts that boomed after Congress passed the tax breaks starting in 2001. States have promoted the plans as a way for middle-class parents to combat escalating college costs.
Slightly over half of all the college-saving accounts are held by Americans making under $150,000 a year, according to a 2012 Government Accountability Office report. About 30% earned under $100,000 a year. There are about 12 million 529 accounts in total, according to the College Savings Plan Network, an industry group, while the average balance in a 529 account is about $21,000--enough to cover almost two years average tuition, room and board--minus aid--at a public four-year university.
Ryan Ellis, tax policy director for the conservative think tank Americans for Tax Reform, said the proposal violates an Obama campaign pledge to not raise taxes on middle-income Americans.
"This idea that this is an account for the preserve of the Huxtables out there that make $250,000 a year is kind of ridiculous," Mr. Ellis said. Many owners of 529 plans are young parents who take pride in saving money in advance for their children’s college education, he said. "You've made them look like chumps for saving whatever they’ve saved so far."
But isn't this the whole point? If you've worked to avoid needing the government's aid, You are essentially unpatriotic and an enemy of the state. By making yourself independent of government, you effectively oppose it.
Therefore, you should be made to feel like a chump for having attempted such insolence.
Instapundit writes that they're not just coming for your college savings, ">they're coming for your everything.
Bank robber Willie Sutton is said to have explained his career this way: "That's where the money is." Whether Sutton ever really said that, it's an aphorism that, according to Bloomberg's Megan McArdle, explains President Obama's plans to go after middle class assets like 529 college savings plans and home appreciation.
Likewise, Obama proposes to tax the appreciation on inherited homes...
Why would the White House even consider such a thing?
When a government is desperate for cash, it goes after the middle class, because that's where the money is....
The truth is, in our redistributionist system politicians make their careers mostly by taking money from one group of citizens that won't vote for them and giving it to another that will. If they run short of money from traditional sources, they'll look for new revenue wherever they can find it. And if that's the homes and savings of the middle class, then that's what they'll target.
A man named Joe the Plumber asked about Obama's redistributionist agenda seven years ago. No one in the media did. When Obama bragged that indeed he supported "sharing the wealth," the media went into overdrive to cover up for Obama, and to smear Joe the Plumber. (Obama wasn't vetted, by an everyday citizen asking a question sure was.)
Now Obama is explicitly calling for even more "share the wealth" policies at the expense of the Middle Class.
Where do we go to get that apology from the media?
Update: They're actually just trying to "reform" the tax code by making it "simpler."
See, it was too confusing before. So now they're going to take that confusing money out of your pocket.
Reporter: Saudi King Abdullah "Couldn't Stand" Obama
NBC reporter Richard Engle shot down the various claims emanating from both DC and Riyadh that the two men were close friends:
"One of the big ironies here is that President Obama, in his statement, said how close he was to King Abdullah... King Abdullah did not like President Obama. In fact, a lot of people I know that are quite close to the late King Abdullah said that the king could not stand President Obama. This close personal bond between the president and the late Saudi leader, I think, is people being polite at a time of a national funeral."
Of course, our Cool Guy President also decided to upset India with his Nicorette-chewing, while in audience with India's PM.
"In an ungainly sight, cameras caught US President Brack Obama chewing gum during the Republic Day parade on Monday. In the picture captured by cameras and posted on Twitter by some users, Obama was spotted removing his chewing gum while PM Modi was seen trying to explain something to the US president," reports the Times of India.
This #SmartDiplomacy doesn't seem to be working. Maybe because the asshole authoring it isn't that smart.
George Clausen, "Twilight Interior" (c. 1909)
The Triumphant Return of DOOM
Good morning, my groovy babies. Long time no smell! (Ah, the sweet sweet thrill of a fourth-grade burn. It makes life worth living.)
IBM may lay off as many as 100,000 employees this week. One hundred thousand. They're going to keep that one old janitor named Henry because he has a huge inventory of dirty jokes and is the life of any party, but everyone else (apparently) is going to get pinkslipped. Here's another take from Forbes.
We also have another entrant in the long-running "white racism is at the root of all evil" journalism genre. In this case, the story has to do with black homeowners being hit hard by the 2006-2007 real-estate meltdown.
What's that you say? Plenty of white, asian, and hispanic homeowners got burned in that debacle as well? You're saying that this piece is a repeat of every real-estate sob story for the past seven years, only wrapped up in a race-baiting shell? If this surprises you, you need to get out more.
It turns out that black homeowners were much like their white peers during the housing bubble, in that they tended to buy too much house (due to artificially low interest rates) and then got themselves deeper into a hole by refinancing their homes via option-ARMs and other loans that they didn't understand very well. Plenty of nonblack Americans can commisserate with this particular tale.
Michael Fletcher, the writer of the piece, strains mightily to frame the story as an example of institutionalized racism, but if you read closely you simply see the same pathologies that other homeowners fell into during the bubble. Buying at the wrong time in the wrong place, failing to account for local real-estate market valuations (location, location, location), taking on too much mortgage, and then using the house as an ATM on the assumption that the value of the property will continue to go up indefinitely. This is not a tale of racism; it's a tale of how financial foolishness and bad decision-making transcends class and skin color.
It is true that even middle-class black families often operate on a thinner financial "cushion" than their white counterparts, but this is often true due to cultural issues liberals would prefer not to talk about. The main one being the collapse of the two-parent family in many black communities. Single-parent families are at greater financial risk in many ways, and a mortgage weighs heavily on a single wage-earner regardless of race -- and there is added pressure in that single parents have to carry the weight of, e.g., childcare and transportation as well as housing and other living costs. Then there is the fact that black Americans are disproportionately represented in the public-sector workforce, and this sector has been on an almost zero-growth trajectory since the Great Recession.
If you look past the facile white-racism frame of the story, what you see instead is a tale of basic human frailty during an economic bubble, and the unintended consequences of bad government policy going back for decades.
And finally...can we dispense with the "death of the American dream" agonals, already? This shtick has been going on for fifty years. It's old and broke and needs to be sent to the glue factory where it can be put out of its misery.
In other news, it turns out that I wasn't being paranoid -- His Majesty the King really does want you to stop saving money. We understand the truth of Milton Friedman's aphorism that if you want more of something, you subsidize it, and if you want less of something, you tax it. Therefore, we must assume that the King and his ministers want their subjects to save less and spend their money on booze and hookers instead. (I mean, I was planning on doing that anyway, but it's nice to know I was ahead of the curve on that one.)
By the way, my new retirement strategy has shifted to capering for nickels on the boardwalk while tourists point and laugh. If you see me in my dotage attempting to dance a merry jig on my poor arthritic legs, please spare a few pieces of coin. Otherwise, all I might have to sup on is the burnt ashes of my dreams, moistened with my own bitter tears.
But hey! Everything isn't going to shit. Why, look at how great the Greeks are doing in their effort to pay down their debts and re-integrate back into the Eurozone!
It certainly seems as though the victory of the left-wing Syriza party in the recent Greek elections portends -- finally and at long last -- a Greek exit from the Euro. Greece has groaned under a fiscal policy imposed on it by the so-called "Troika" for three years now as a condition of their last bailout, with the result that the chronically weak Greek economy has become all but moribund. It is mired in a deep depression, with unemployment currently running above 25%.
Greeks are clearly tired of paying back loans they squandered long ago. It's like a kid having to continue to pay for a toy he's already broken. The Greeks basically lied their way into the Eurozone to begin with, racked up huge debts, and utterly failed to reform their backward, Statist economy. But they were able to stay ahead of the wolves for a decade or so, until the Great Downturn of 2008 came along and brought the whole farce to a crashing halt.
And it may not be over yet. I have been surprised time and time again by the ability of even the most bankrupt and hopeless financial basket cases of the world to keep soldiering on even when all hope is lost. One might be tempted to call this the triumph of hope over experience, but "hope" isnt't the word I'd choose. A better word is "desperation". Greece may yet look into the abyss, blink, and step back; or they may be "persuaded" to continue along their ruinous economic track by angry German taxpayers and bondholders who loaned Greece a pile of money.
Luckily, all is not lost. Our moral and ethical betters have gathered in Davos to light their cigars with hundred-dollar bills while mocking the tubercular bootblack who's been pressed into service to keep their shoes looking spiffy while they chat and laugh and eat lobster canapes. Oh, wait, I read that wrong, sorry. They're in Davos to discuss the pressing problem of Global Warming(tm). Because they're so concerned about Global Warming(tm) that they felt compelled to fly their private jets to an upscale enclave in the Swiss Alps to talk about it. While making fun of the tubercular bootblack who's spit-shining their wingtips.
Don't get me wrong - I'm a big believer in ostentatious displays of wealth. If I had the money, I'd build a hundred-foot-high statue of myself made out of pure platinum and then hire homeless people to worship at it for no fewer than eight hours per day. (I'd pay them a fair wage, though. What's the going rate for abject obeisance to a living God? I'll have to look it up.) But this Davos thing is just...rank. It's a collection of rich fart-sniffers who want to congratulate each other on how socially conscious they are, and how much they care about the Little People. (Except the tubercular bootblack, whom they often kick with their rich-guy shoes.)
The financial press promotes economic illiteracy. I've never been impressed by finance journos as a group, though there are some splendid ones out there. The canard about falling prices being a horrible sign is a good point -- deflation is not, a priori, a bad thing. Sometimes it is necessary, when -- as now -- we are trying to deflate an asset bubble.
Close it up
Monday Morning News Dump
- The Perils Of Hypocrophobia
- Davos Destructive Elites
- Uncle Same Is Coming After Your Savings
- IBM To Lay Off 100,000 Employees?
- America's New Aristocracy
- The Hollywood Jihad Against American Sniper
- Are Libertarians Looking For Results Or Congratulations
- Middle Class Savings Like Blood In The Water
- Bob Dylan To AARP: "The Government's Not Going To Create Jobs"
- Obama Sits There Chewing Gum During India Parade
- Finally, Lingerie Store Sells Michelle Obama Bra
- Greek Radical Left Wins Election
- Bill Clinton? Orgy Island? Totally Believable
- Where Was Obama When The Middle Class Needed Him
Overnight Open Thread (1-25-2015)
Our schools and colleges are laying a guilt trip on those young people whose parents are productive, and who are raising them to become productive. What is amazing is how easily this has been done, largely just by replacing the word "achievement" with the word "privilege."
-- Thomas Sowell in His Royal Glibness
On the 50th anniversary of his death.
"We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy."
-To the Canadian House of Commons, December 30 1941
"[I]t has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."
-To the House of Commons, November 11, 1947
"It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time."
-To the House of Commons, February 27, 1945
"Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will represent the United States at the 70th anniversary ceremony for the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp on Tuesday-rather than President Barack Obama or Vice President Joe Biden-while other countries are slated to send their heads of state," according to Daniel Wiser of the Washington Free Beacon
And note that this may be last major ceremony to include people with first-hand knowledge of Auschwitz:
Tuesday's ceremony will likely be the last major anniversary where a significant number of survivors of the Nazi camp are present. About 300 are expected to attend, and most of them are in their 90s or older than 100. Nazi authorities killed 1.1 million people at the camp, mostly Jews, which was liberated by the Soviet army in January 1945.
California's seven Supreme Court judges have voted unanimously to prohibit state judges from holding membership in the Boy Scouts of America; the ruling is based on the grounds that the Scouts discriminate against gays.
California is one of several states that has rules on the books banning judges from holding memberships in groups that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation; the court, however, also carved out an exception for non-profit youth groups, including the Boy Scouts.Everything changed, however, when an ethics advisory committee recommended the ban last year.
Over the Charlie Hebdo killings:
Rowling rounded out her idiot trilogy with this racist tweet:
- J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 11, 2015As I read that, Rowling is saying we shouldn't be getting our knickers in a twist, because the important point to remember is that Muslims really get their kicks slaughtering other Muslims. That is correct. But rather than seeing this as further evidence of the problem with Islam, J.K. "The Great Debater" Rowling believes this horrible truth shuts down any critiques of Islam. I think this last tweet establishes more clearly than anything else could ever have that Rowling's a racist. Her bottom line is that, as long as the brown-skinned people are killing each other, we don't need to care.
Taking an international commercial flight is one of the most carbon-intensive things the typical person does in his life, but if you're comparing carbon footprints between your average traveler squeezed into coach on American and Davos Man quaffing Pol Roger in his cashmere-carpeted intercontinental air limousine, you're talking Smurfette vs. Sasquatch. The Bombardier's Global 6000 may be a technical marvel, but it still runs on antique plankton juice. The emissions from heating all those sprawling hotel suites in the Alps in winter surely makes baby polar bears weep bitter and copious baby-polar-bear tears.
The stories add up: Jeff Greene brings multiple nannies on his private jet to Davos, and the rest of the guys gathered to talk past each other about the plight of the working man scarf down couture hot-dogs that cost forty bucks. Bill Clinton makes the case for wealth-redistribution while sporting a $60,000 platinum Rolex.
...These ridiculous hypocrites deserve every syllable of abuse that comes their way. I instinctively write off all denunciations of the wicked 1 percent coming from anybody unwilling to live at or below the median U.S. household income, which amounts to less than Clinton's Rolex is worth. But there is something worse at work here than hypocrisy: stupidity. And stupidity is, like private-jet travel, shockingly expensive.Our governments and our business and political elites are not mainly made up of stupid people. One of the shocking things about getting to know people in government, whether in elected office or in the bureaucracies, is that they are mostly bright, well-intentioned, and honest. Together they represent a sterling example of one of the most important and least understood of modern social paradoxes: None of us is as dumb as all of us.
A damning article. The A-10 is beloved by ground troops (and politicians) and is supremely effective as well as cheap to operate and maintain. Yet for well over twenty years the Air Force has been absolutely determined to kill the plane despite the fact that they have no effective replacement for it.
The Air Force's monomania and irrational determination to sacrifice everything in order to field the F-35 has led them to try and kill effective existing weapons as well as corresponding dishonesty about their efforts. At this point it seems pretty clear that the USAF is simply no longer interested in close air support (CAS) and doesn't care if it hurts the overall effectiveness of the US military.
It's well past time to revisit the almost 70 year old Key West Agreement of 1947 and consider re-forming the USAAF to handle what the USAF isn't interested in any more. In fact the whole article is an implied argument that the USAF's self-perceived mission has diverged from the rest of the US military far enough and long enough that perhaps it ought to be broken up and its assets distributed among the other branches of the military.
(Thanks to Slu)
Seems to be an almost unalloyed good:
The results were that police use of force reports halved on shifts when police wore cameras. In addition, the use of force during the entire treatment period (on shifts both using and not using cameras) was about half the rate as during pre-treatment periods. In other words, the camera wearing shifts appear to have caused police to change their behavior on all shifts in a way that reduced the use of force. A treatment that bleeds over to the control group is bad for experimental design but suggests that the effect was powerful in changing the norms of interaction. (By the way, the authors say that they can't be certain whether the cameras primarily influenced the police or the citizens but the fact that the effect occurred even on non-camera shifts suggests that the effect is primarily driven by police behavior since the citizens would not have been particularly aware of the experiment, especially as there would have been relatively few repeat interactions for citizens.)
It is possible that the police shaded their reports down during the treatment period but complaints by citizens also fell dramatically during the treatment period from about 25-50 per year to just 3 per year.
Well here's one of my favorites:
Buddy Ackerman, Swimming with Sharks (1994) - People don't talk about one of the most underappreciated movies of the 1990s enough, because Swimming with Sharks kind of got lost in all the Tarantino and Pulp Fiction hype of 1994. However, Sharks was one of the sharpest, cruelest, most vicious Hollywood satires of the decade. In it, Kevin Spacey plays Buddy Ackerman, a kind of cross between Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross and Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, a studio executive who is viciously mean to his personal assistant, Guy (played by Frank Whaley). Buddy bullies, humiliates, abuses, and cruelly taunts Buddy so much that Buddy eventually breaks and kidnaps and tortures his boss until one of the film arrives at one of the most f*cked-up, dark twists you'll ever see. Spacey is electric in this film, and it still remains my favorite of all of his performances.
Although you're still free to be a sitzpinkler if you want.
The Duesseldorf administrative court rejected the landlord's claim of 1,900 euros ($2,200) for alleged damage to the bathroom's marble floor, the dpa news agency reported Thursday.
While accepting expert testimony that urine had damaged the marble, Judge Stefan Hank ruled the man's method was within cultural norms, saying that "despite the increasing domestication of men in this context, urinating standing up is still common practice."
Weekly Commenter Standings
Top 10 commenters:
1 [776 comments] 'Misanthropic Humanitarian ' [110.85 posts/day]
2 [517 comments] 'J.J. Sefton'
3 [498 comments] 'ThunderB, Sharia Compliance Officer'
4 [486 comments] 'rickb223'
5 [467 comments] 'Vic'
6 [414 comments] 'artisanal 'ette '
7 [410 comments] 'Jane D'oh'
8 [409 comments] 'Nip Sip'
9 [318 comments] 'cthulhu'
10 [318 comments] 'Lizzy'
Top 10 sockpuppeteers:
1 [127 names] 'The Political Hat' [17.84 unique names/day]
2 [75 names] 'Blue Hen'
3 [60 names] 'John McCain'
4 [60 names] 'Tight End Reggie'
5 [53 names] 'Turd Ferguson'
6 [53 names] 'Islamic Rage Boy'
7 [46 names] 'guy who wanted the Pats' cheerleader in the sailor uniform'
8 [45 names] 'Thin veneer of civility'
9 [43 names] 'BB Wolf'
10 [40 names] 'Bob's House of Flannel Shirts and Wallet Chains'
The group. Never heard of it.
Where it's at - the Twitter
Tonight's post brought to you by Microsoft founders Bill Gates (13) and Paul Allen (15) connecting to a PDP-10 computer at the University of Washington through a terminal at their high school in 1968:
And here they are 10 years later (1978 ) in the early days of Microsoft:
Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips to maetenloch at gmail. Otherwise send tips to Ace.
Close it up
—Dave In Texas
Ok, whatever.. the Pro Bowl.
Did you know there are actually Pro Bowl Cheerleaders?
I only have one comment with respect to DeflateGate and that is when in hell are we going to stop adding the word "gate" to every goddamn scandal ever? Most of you were kids when Nixon's bumblers got caught in the Watergate hotel. Oh wait, so was I. OK whatever, too young to remember or care is the point.
I wish it had been called the "WaterTits" hotel.
Weekend Thread: War Reporting [Y-not]
Saw this neat picture from the Israeli Defense Force's twitter feed:
It got me thinking about military correspondents. I'm sure many of you know more about this topic than I do, but I found this article interesting:
"Everybody is in favour of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage."
The manner in which Winston Churchill used the power of the media to influence and persuade others was unprecedented. As a young, ambitious man he had always made sure to keep on good terms with newspaper proprietors, becoming close friends with Oliver Borthwick, editor of the Morning Post, and Alfred Harmsworth, proprietor of the Daily Mail, in the late 1890s.
As a war correspondent during the Boer War, his antics and feats of derring-do - including tales of capture and escape - would secure for him a celebrity status he would capitalise on during his early political campaigns.
In 1899, Churchill headed to South Africa as a newspaper correspondent for the Morning Post. While there, he found himself on board an armoured train which was ambushed and captured by Boer soldiers. He arrived in Pretoria at the State Model Schools prison on 18 November 1899 along with all the other prisoners.
On the night of 12 December, a chance to escape presented itself and Churchill climbed over the prison wall while the guards' backs were turned.
Wearing a brown flannel suit with 75 Pounds and four slabs of chocolate in his pocket, Churchill walked through the night in hopes of finding the Delagoa Bay Railway. After one or two train journeys hidden by coal-stained sacks, he found himself at the house of the manager of the Transvaal Collieries, John Howard. Mr Howard hid him in a coal mine before managing to transport him to safety.
It is easy to forget, with the breadth of Churchill's long-spanning political career, that Churchill was first a successful war correspondent.
Follow the link for more short biographies of war correspondents.
There's also this "thinky" piece about modern war journalism, Shooting the Messenger:
Sebastian Junger believed he knew about war. He had reported on conflict for nearly two decades: in the Balkans, West Africa and Afghanistan. He had been shot at. He had watched soldiers die. With the British photographer Tim Hetherington he had made Restrepo, an Oscar-nominated film about an American platoon's 15-month deployment in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley, and had written a book about the same experience. If ever there was a prototypical war reporter, he was it: blue eyed, square jawed; a writer of clean, telegram-ready prose.
But it was not until Hetherington died from a shrapnel injury in Misrata, Libya, on 20 April 2011 - alongside another outstanding photographer, Chris Hondros - that Junger understood conflict the way soldiers do. He and Tim were not only great friends but in the eyes of many were "professionally married" because of their work together for Vanity Fair and on Restrepo. In the gut-shot days that followed Hetherington's death, Junger was avalanched with correspondence.
The email he remembers best from this period came from a Vietnam veteran. The man had admired Junger's book, and felt it came close to showing both the cost and the appeal of war for young men. And in his email the veteran told Junger what he believed to be the harsh central truth about combat: not that you may be killed, but that you were guaranteed to lose people you love.
"And now," he wrote, "you have lost a brother, and you know everything there is to know."
For contrast, read the Wiki page about Yvonne Ridley:
During her captivity she was asked by one of her captors to convert to Islam; she refused, but gave her word she would read the Quran after her release. Once freed, she kept this promise and read the Quran looking for an explanation of the Taliban's treatment of women, only to find there wasn't any. Instead she decided it was "a magna carta for women", saying, "the Koran makes it clear that women are equal in spirituality, worth and education. What everyone forgets is that Islam is perfect; people are not."
She converted to Islam in the summer of 2003, claiming that her new faith has helped put behind her broken marriages and a reputation as the "Patsy Stone of Fleet Street".
In December 2001 Ridley released In the Hands of the Taliban, a memoir detailing the 10 days she was held captive. In it, she expressed worries that officers from Mossad, the Israeli secret service, or from other intelligence agencies, were plotting to have her killed in an effort to boost public support for the war in Afghanistan.
Her life is littered with foolish choices, failed marriages, and lawsuits against her employers.
What a dolt.
To get the bad taste of criminally stupid Ms. Ridley out of your mouth, here's a lovely picture of an IDF soldier:
Close it up
Food Thread: Deflated Balls Edition [CBD]
In the absence in the news of anything other than interminable discussions of Tom Brady's 11 deflated balls, I suggest we look upon spherical foods as a metaphor for the media's vast appetite for stories that go nowhere.
Or because they are easy to eat and usually taste good.
But first, can someone explain this equation to the journalism majors of America? Did none of them take physics?
These are called bitterballen, and they are a distinctly Dutch treat that go wonderfully with booze. Or alone.
Arancini, or Italian stuffed rice balls (not stuffed with Italians, rather they originate in italy), are a staple at most Italian delis around here. But they are also easy to make. Lidia Bastianich is no slouch when it comes to Italian cooking, and her recipe is a good, basic one that can be modified easily. It is also not quick and simple, although there is no complicated technique required.....just time.
And....I love the look of the conical ones.....so if you make them, go for the non-standard shape! Just call it a Bradycini.
And for the ultimate in football shapes, make this Ina Garten meatloaf recipe
Here it is, with slight modifications:
1 tablespoon good olive oil
3 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 1/2 pounds ground meat (preferably 1/3 beef, 1/3 veal, 1/3 pork)
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 extra-large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup ketchup
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onions, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not brown. Off the heat, add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, onion mixture, bread crumbs, and eggs, and mix lightly with a fork. Don't mash or the meatloaf will be dense. Divide the mixture into 6 (10 to 11-ounce) portions and shape each portion into a small loaf on a sheet pan. Spread about a tablespoon of ketchup on the top of each portion. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the internal temperature is 155 to 160 degrees F and the meat loaves are cooked through. Serve hot.
Jamie Oliver has gone round the bend with his vegan/vegetarian/save-the-world-with-food lunacy. But he also writes amusingly, and his recipes for real food (which I define as stuff that leftists find disgusting) are often interesting. This one, for milk braised chicken, sounds weird, and intriguing. I have not tried it, but will give it a shot in the next few weeks.
Washington state agricultural representatives feared testifying Tuesday at a public hearing for a proposed bill to outlaw espionage by animal-welfare activists against farms and ranches.
These are the Luddites that want to drag us back to a pre-agrarian society that will be far more brutal than anything yet seen by man.
I want our food animals to be treated as well as possible, but the thought that their lives are on par with ours is laughable. And....anyone care to bet on how many of the female terrorists in the animal-welfare movement have had abortions?
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup good soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
4 scallions, sliced diagonally (white and green parts)
Place the garlic and ginger in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the vegetable oil, tahini, peanut butter, soy sauce, sherry, sherry vinegar, honey, chili oil, sesame oil, and ground peppers. Puree the sauce.
Add a splash of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook the spaghetti al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander, place it in a large bowl, and while still warm, toss with 3/4 of the sauce.
Add the red and yellow bell peppers and scallions; toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature. The remaining sauce may be added, as needed, to moisten the pasta.
Close it up
Gaming Thread in AR
—Gang of Gaming Morons!
So Microsoft has finally showed off their Forteleza Project last week and it's a lot different than what everyone was expecting. The original idea was a pair of glasses that paired with a phone or Xbox One but under it's new working name, HoloLens, it's now more akin to an HMD.
I'm actually okay with this as though it's not going to be something wear outside, it's a nice stop gap till it can be shrunk down to an actual pair of glasses while actually being able to do Augmented Reality properly (unlike Google Glass). And the bulk lets everything sit behind the glasses instead outside like everyone else's design which is something I think needs to be done to get wide appeal. Also think that making it be able to be a stand alone item with it's own built in cpu, gpu and a specialized chip to handle all the movement and voice data and whatnot (I'm kinda expecting an iteration of what is in the Kinect).
Now that name, HoloLens, I can't say I like that name. Should have gone with HaloLens :D but I can understand why they might shy away from it after Google kinda let people down with AR. And though calling it holograms is cooler, it's not correct as it's not holograms (which personally I think is an outdated concept), it's just AR even if they're calling it Mixed Reality, a combination of AR and VR.
I do wish they weren't so tight lipped on what was in the innards though. Only thing that has come out is that it's the first known product to contain Intel's new Cherry Trail chip. I do like they've built in FOV rendering as it tracks your eyes in what to render and it also includes their wedge tech which bounces light all around till it hits your eyes.
Of course, it still comes down on if it will work or not. The hands on impressions after the presser have been glowing but it will be interesting if it will work outside of a closely watched hands-on. It's always thought that we're about 6-8 years away from AR being a reality but if they showed wasn't smoke and mirrors, this cuts that assumption down to a year or two. And if it does work, I'm curious in how the stop gap that is VR is going to fare.
If there is one thing to say about Satya Nadella, unlike Gates and Ballmer, he doesn't seem to be timid when it comes to actually announcing the future stuff that Microsoft makes in their research labs.
Going to make GDC and Build very interesting in what comes out of it.
At the conference, they also announced a new version of the XBox app for Windows 10. It's in the preview version of Windows and it's for the most part a mash of the Windows 8 app and Smartglass mobile app. It's cool they added a built in recording program but I'm curious in how many people are actually going to use it over the known programs like FRAPS or even Nvidia's ShadowPlay.
They also announced that they're going to take another stab at cross-play between the PC and Xbox One. They've tried it a few times before in the past and it's been a horrible experience (gamepads make you cannon fodder, who knew?). From their initial statements, I don't think limiting PC players to only using a pad is a good or the right fix though.
Being able to stream your Xbox One games to your PC and Tablets is okay I guess. Sticking with it being only on wireless LAN not so much. Though it doesn't really work that well on the PS4, being able to stream your games over the net would be a nice feature to include.
On the DX12 front, they didn't say anything new. Just the same statements that it gives you more command queues between your GPU and CPU. The cool stuff is going to be announced at GDC and Build.
They didn't say anything about cloud computing which sucks. Hopefully they fully unwrap that stuff at Build.
• UbiSoft announced a new game called Grown Home and it looks like a lot of fun.
• Throw away all your bad thoughts about a straight to VOD Dead Rising movie and think lower. Sad seeing Meghan Ory and Dennis Haysbert in this.
Can't make up my mind in what is the least surprising news of the week
• New trailer for the upcoming Star Wars Battle Pod game and Arcade Heroes did an awesome interview with the Lead Producer on the project
• So Riot announced that this year's League of Champions World Championship is going to be in Europe. Kinda surprised they're not having it in South Korea so they can have players roll out of their beds at home and into the arena.
• New trailer for the upcoming Project Cars
• Been a few years since Sid Meier's worked on a game (the two Ace Patrol games being the last ones in 2013) so it's time for another game he's worked on at Firaxis. This one is called Sid Meier's Starships, a new space 4X. From the press release, it sure sounds a lot like Sins of the Solar Empire.
Dying Light (PC, PS4, 360, XBO) - Techland (Dead Island) going back to the zombie well with the added bonus of parkour. You can find tons of footage of it on youtube, it doesn't look bad. That being said, it's a Techland game and it has a release date review embargo. Those two things should send a shiver down anyone's spine if you know of the woes of pretty much any of their games releases (only Call of Juarez: Gunslinger wasn't broken at launch). I can't say I would touch this game this week.
Grim Fandango: Remastered (PC, PS4, Vita) - Not really a remaster (new lighting) and not really a remake (most of stuff is up-rezzed). Double Fine needs money, they're hoping dusting off this classic P&C will help. I know this is a major want but I've personally don't have fond recollection of this game. For a swan song of the LucasArts point and click era (Full Throttle was the swan song for me), I remember being quite disappointed in it. The puzzles weren't interesting or complete and it was a huge tryhard in it's writing and atmosphere which lead to one of the biggest disappointments when it comes to an ending. For something being better with rose tinted glasses, this is very much one.
Life Is Strange (PC, PS4, PS3, 360, XBO) - Dontnod's first game was the cool concept but horrible game Remember Me and they're back with an episodic game (containing 5 episodes) called Life Is Strange which deals with a young girl who can manipulate time and it's full butterfly effect. If you've been paying attention to all who have tried doing episodic content, it's never been done well before (not even Telltale has been able to do it right). They're trying to release an episode every 6 weeks but I'll be surprised if they actually make that. Though I may be skeptical, the trailers does make it look really cool.
Close it up
Valerie! Bibi was mean to me! I HATE him! [CBD]
Our petulant man-child president will be making significant and far-reaching foreign policy decisions based on being called a poopy-head during recess.
Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.
And from commenter Willow: The Future does not belong to those who insult Obama?
Secular Arguments for Life [Y-not]
Earlier this week there was quite a lot of back and forth on Twitter and elsewhere about abortion, including some challenges to the pro-life position based on secular arguments. The thesis appeared to be that there was no way to argue against abortion without invoking The Almighty.
This post is not about abortion per se. Rather, I wanted to point out that it is certainly possible (and I might argue more powerful) to make the case for life on purely secular grounds.
There are two major issues at play. The first is establishing whether or not the living being (there is no argument that embryos and fetuses are living beings; that's simple biology) in utero is a "person."
And the second is whether or not a mother (or mother and father) have unique rights to end that life based solely on where that living being resides.
Thoughtful secular humanists have tackled these questions. A few examples are provided below:
Kristine Kruszelnicki in A Secular Case Against Abortion:
The question of personhood leaves the realm of science for that of philosophy and moral ethics. Science defines what the preborn is, it cannot define our obligations toward her. After all, the preborn is a very different human entity than those we see around us. Should a smaller, less developed, differently located and dependent being be entitled to rights of personhood and life?
Perhaps the more significant question is: are these differences morally relevant? If the factor is irrelevant to other humans' personhood, neither should it have bearing on that of the preborn. Are small people less important than bigger or taller people? Is a teenager who can reproduce more worthy of life than a toddler who can't even walk yet? Again, if these factors are not relevant in granting or increasing personhood for anyone past the goal post of birth, neither should they matter where the preborn human is concerned.
One might fairly argue that we do grant increasing rights with skill and age. However, the right to live and to not be killed is unlike the social permissions granted on the basis of acquired skills and maturity, such as the right to drive or the right to vote. We are denied the right to drive prior to turning 16; we are not killed and prevented from ever gaining that level of maturity.
Nat Hentoff describes his journey to the pro-life position in
The Indivisible Fight for Life:
But then I started hearing about "late abortion." The simple "fact" that the infant had been born, proponents suggest, should not get in the way of mercifully saving him or her from a life hardly worth living. At the same time, the parents are saved from the financial and emotional burden of caring for an imperfect child.
And then I heard the head of the Reproductive Freedom Rights unit of the ACLU saying - this was at the same time as the Baby Jane Doe story was developing on Long Island - at a forum, "I don't know what all this fuss is about. Dealing with these handicapped infants is really an extension of women's reproductive freedom rights, women's right to control their own bodies."
That stopped me. It seemed to me we were not talking about Roe v. Wade. These infants were born. And having been born, as persons under the Constitution, they were entitled to at least the same rights as people on death row - due process, equal protection of the law. So for the first time, I began to pay attention to the "slippery slope" warnings of pro-lifers I read about or had seen on television. Because abortion had become legal and easily available, that argument ran - as you well know - infanticide would eventually become openly permissible, to be followed by euthanasia for infirm, expensive senior citizens.
And then in the New York Review of Books , I saw the respected, though not by me, Australian bio-ethicist Peter Singer boldly assert that the slope was not slippery at all, but rather a logical throughway once you got on to it. This is what he said - and I've heard this in variant forms from many, many people who consider themselves compassionate, concerned with the pow erless and all that.
Singer: "The pro-life groups were right about one thing, the location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make much of a moral differ ence. We cannot coherently hold it is alright to kill a fetus a week before birth, but as soon as the baby is born everything must be done to keep it alive. The solution, however," said Singer, "is not to accept the pro-life view that the fetus is a human being with the same moral status as yours or mine. The solution is the very opposite, to abandon the idea that all human life is of equal worth." Which, of course, the majority of the Court had already done in Roe v. Wade.
Read the whole thing.
Finally, Christopher Hitchens speaking in January 2008:
"I've had a lot of quarrels with some of my fellow materialists and secularists on this point, [but] I think that if the concept 'child' means anything, the concept 'unborn child' can be said to mean something. All the discoveries of embryology [and viability] - which have been very considerable in the last generation or so - appear to confirm that opinion, which I think should be innate in everybody. It's innate in the Hippocratic Oath, it's instinct in anyone who's ever watched a sonogram. So 'yes' is my answer to that."
Abortion is a very difficult subject about which to argue constructively and effectively. Those of us with strong positions about it, pro and con, can easily throw up our hands, demonize our opponents, and assume we will never come to an understanding. There are certainly times when I simply block out those arguing for "abortion rights" out of sheer exasperation.
And, to be honest, I sometimes block out the arguments being made against abortion, especially when they are based on emotionalism and vitriol, despite the fact that I am sympathetic to those making the arguments.
But these words always bring me back around to continuing the struggle:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
I do not want to subject myself to a government that is not committed to securing the right to life for its most vulnerable residents.
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Sunday Morning Book Thread 01-25-2015: Science! [OregonMuse]
Paris - France National Library (Bibliothèque Nationale de France)
(library photo stolen from the HuffPo who got it from this guy)
Good morning morons and moronettes and welcome to AoSHQ's stately, prestigious, and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread. The only AoSHQ thread that is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Or kilts. Kilts are OK, too. But not tutus. Unless you're a girl.
Quote Of The Week
If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.
Man's Search for Knowledge
Younger book thread readers might not know, and hence find it hard to believe, that there once was a time in America wen those who spoke to the public at large in the name of science weren't a bunch of smug, arrogant jerks. In particular, Bell Laboratories (yes, the old monopoly phone company) produced a series of educational movies on topics such as blood, the sun, heredity, the weather. They were originally broadcast on TV between 1957 and 1964, but then Bell made 16mm copies freely available for educational purposes, so they became science class staples in primary and secondary schools all over the country. If you're old like me, you're probably remember the AV club setting up the film projector in your classrooms so the science teacher could show the class films such as Hemo the Magnificent, or Our Mr. Sun, or maybe even The Unchained Goddess. I think they actually hold up pretty well, all things considered, they're entertaiing and yes, they're a bit hokey, but not as much as you might think.
Of course you can read about all of this, the history, the personalities, the films themselves, and more, in the book Sonnets & Sunspots: "Dr. Research" Baxter And The Bell Science Films by Eric Niderost.
And I'd much rather listen to Dr. Frank Baxter than Neill DeGrasse Tyson any day.
For more "man's search for knowledge" type stuff for a general audience, you might want to look into Daniel Boorstin's trilogy The Discoverers, followed up by The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination and The Seekers: The Story of Man's Continuing Quest to Understand His World.
You know 'em, you hate 'em, you love to hate 'em, they're 30 literary 'mean girl' characters, although I don't think some of them really qualify as mean girls, so caveat lector.
And Susan Pevensey from the Narnia stories isn't a "hussy". I think the word Lewis would use to describe her would be "worldly", which is quite different.
What The Boss Is Reading
A while back, Congress established the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) to look into the whys are wherefores of the 2008 housing crisis. But:
In a just-released book, former FCIC member Peter Wallison says that a Democratic Congress worked with the commission's Democratic chairman to whitewash the government's central role in the mortgage debacle. The conspiracy helped protect some of the Democrats' biggest stars from scrutiny and accountability while helping justify the biggest government takeover of the financial sector since the New Deal.
...The final FCIC report put the blame squarely on Wall Street.
In 2009, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed her California pal Phil Angelides, a long-time Democrat operative, to lead the commission. The fix seemed to be in, and Wallison's account of the inner workings of the 10-member body confirms it.
The book referred to is this one, Hidden in Plain Sight: What Really Caused the World's Worst Financial Crisis and Why It Could Happen Again, which ace mentioned earlier this week. What's interesting to me is that, since the Jan 13th release date, the book has picked up 59 one-star reviews (out of 89 total as of this writing) on Amazon, a venue where reviews tend to skew positive. So either (a) this is a really crappy book, or (b) the book has struck a nerve among progressives who are spontaneously rising up in progressively righteous wrath, or (c) this is what a fully operational Democrat/Alinskyite astroturf operation looks like.
I would like to think I'm not one who is given over to conspiracy theories, but given the targets of the book, the allegations and malfeasance described therein, and the Democrat Party machine's adroitness in trolling social media, I'm kind of tending toward (c).
And what exactly is David Axelrod up to these days, anyway?
Is There Such A Thing As A Liberal Muslim?
Well, maybe there is. Tarek Fatah is a Canadian Muslim who argues that Muslims shouldn't pray to defeat non-Muslims. Actually, I don't have much of a problem with this. After all, if that's all the jihadis did, the world would be a much more peaceful place, and tens of thousands of those who are now dead would still be alive.
And by way of explicating and expounding upon his beliefs that Muslims should be more about personal devotion and not so much blowing people up, Fatah has authored a couple of books, the titles of which pretty much explain their contents, Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State, and also this one, The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism, which should get him into a lot of trouble:
Fatah uses extensive research to trace how literature from as early as the seventh century has fueled the hatred of Jews by Muslims. Fatah debunks the anti-Jewish writings of the Hadith literature, takes apart the Arab supremacist doctrines that lend fuel to the fire, and reinterprets supposed anti-Jewish passages in the Quran. In doing so he argues that hating Jews is against the essence of the Islamic spirit and suggests what needs to be done to eliminate the agonizing friction between the two communities.
Good luck with that. I mean, it's a noble goal and all, and I wish Mr. Fatah success in his efforts, but I would think that preaching against Jew hatred to radical, jihadi Muslims would be a bit of a hard sell, rather like explaining the virtues of chastity and modesty to Lena Dunham.
Plus, the bit about Jews being turned into monkeys and rats, that comes from one of the Hadiths, right? I wonder how Fatah squares that circle?
Reading Is Oppressive
Thanks to moron commenter The Political Hat I learned that "millenials" don't read books because they consider books to be a luxury item and you're a classist if you own them. And a privileged member of the oppressive class to boot.
On the other hand, the good news is that there is a gratifyingly large number of negative comments directed at the whiny emo twit who authored the screed in question, so there's that
The Best of George Orwell
Here is a brief introduction to the works of English novelist/essayist/critic George Orwell that provides links to a number of his shorter writings, including his famous essay Politics and the English Language.
For more Orwell reading, go here.
So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.
What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.
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Early Morning Thread 1/25/15: Sunday Comics edition. [krakatoa]
Good Lord what a week. Anyone got a good joke?
I'll accept any variation of the well-worn but timeless Boehner/Boner gags.
Overnight Open Thread (24 Jan 2015)
Dang it, this winter has been a bust here in the Hampton Roads area so far. Just rain, no snow. I blame the snow shovel I finally bought at the end of last season. I finally got the gear I needed for when it snows and now it does not snow. Figures. Monday night/Tuesday is lookin' good though for some snow. Too good for those of you in the northeast according to some of the models.
How China got their first aircraft carrier. That was a pretty sweet deal they worked.
Sex Themed Park
Taiwan plans to build a sex and love theme park. And I thought a measles outbreak at Disneyland was bad. No rides were mentioned so I guess you'll have to bring your own.
War Movie Poll
What is the best war movie ever made? I voted for Patton. Too bad Band Of Brothers wasn't on the list.
A-10s In The News
School Teacher Enforcing FLOTUS Desires
School tries to shame Dad for what he packed in daughters lunch. Why is the cafeteria reporting on lunches that folks bring in? It's none of their damn business.
It is a sad state of affairs when you have to go to court to keep your right to pee standing up.
Reminds me off this scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Tonight's ONT brought to you by realistically colorized historical photos:
Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips to maet or CDR M. Otherwise send tips to Ace.
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Dumb Hat, No Cattle [Y-not]
Stephen Miller (aka @redsteeze on Twitter) caught Mr. Dumb Hat in a doozy:
**UPDATE: I realized some of you might need context. Go to Twitchy for more.**
Saturday Gardening Thread: Winter Is Making Me "Potty" Edition [Y-not, Weirddave & KT]
Good afternoon, gardeners!
Today's post is brought to you by funky garden containers:
It's still January, so a lot of us are stuck indoors either dreaming about gardening or perhaps preparing for Spring. 'Seemed like a good time to talk about innovative planters. We're lucky this week to have two guest contributors, @sasso333 and Melissa Clouthier. (Because of that, your usual co-hosts will keep their sections on the short side.)
First, courtesy of @sasso333 on Twitter:
It's a storage bin with a PVC pipe cage and garden netting set on a moving dolly. Jokingly asked hubby to build me one and voila!
He added a watering tube. The bottom has a reservoir above which the plants sit. Water wicks up
And last but not least, a door.
If a squirrel gets thru this I'm adopting it as a pet b/c that has to be one determined rodent!
Y-not: And now, from Melissa Clouthier (you may know her on Twitter as @MelissaTweets), here's another great idea:
The Lazy Gardener
My mom hails from a long line of farmers who took very seriously the serious business of gardening. To say I'm an unserious gardener would be too kind. I'm a lazy gardener that manages to grow stuff anyway.
How I can be so lazy and have fresh vegetables is a capitalist miracle: The Garden Tower. The Garden Tower is big plastic trash can with a metal tube down the middle for composting and holes all around the edge where you plant seeds and they grow. At the end, with a full Garden Tower, it looks like you have a monstrously huge Chia Pet except the hair is lettuce and tomatoes and herbs.
Behold the Garden Tower: Garden Tower on the left is empty. The Garden Tower on the right is full grown.
Here's a cross section of the Garden Tower with some blurbs on the right:
A couple years ago at the local farmer's market, I saw the above gizmo. My son was transfixed. He wanted to start a garden and see things grow. I knew, as these projects tend to go, that I'd end up doing the work for this thing so thought a while before starting it. I shouldn't have worried. It's easy: Big bag of organic dirt, a pound of Red Wiggler worms, and the Garden Tower. The Garden Tower sales lady suggested I put it up on cinder blocks (I used edging blocks, but same idea) as it would make it easier to access underneath. I took her advice and promptly forgot everything else she told me to do.
The dirt is to go outside the center cylinder. That much was obvious. But where do those worms go? In the middle or in the dirt? And can I put compost stuff in the middle right away or do I have to wait? Crap! I couldn't remember. So I looked up "compost" on the internet. I put kitchen scraps in the middle, put the dirt around the edge of the thing, and plopped the worms, clumps of them, into the compost. I layered it like a wormy Trifle! Anyway, that was wrong. After I had done all this and like lord of the garden said to myself, "It is good", I panicked. I called the garden lady and she told me, "Why, Melissa, no one has ever done it that way. The worms will probably die. Give it a few days and see what happens." And so I did.
The worms did not die.
In fact, the worms thrived even though they were supposed to go in the dirt. I put some starter plants in about half of the 50 openings--it was late in the season and technically, I shouldn't be planting anything at all because it was hot and around June 1st in Houston which is in Zone Hahahahaha. I don't even know my Zone. Let me go look it up. Okay. So I'm in Zone 8-B. Whatever that means.
(Y-not: As a reminder, here's where you can find your zone if you are in the USA.)
For those who are "Preppers", you will love this thing. My prepper friend has this complicated (and huge) hydroponic growing system. This garden tower produces amazing amounts of food in a small footprint. You just need dirt, water, and seeds.
Here is a picture at about four weeks on July 1:
We were already getting lettuce from seed. That's with watering it for about five minutes every morning and dumping the water that had leaked through the tower back onto the plants. The water is called "tea" and is full of nutrients aka worm poop.
That picture was taken July 1st. This picture was taken July 7th:
Here's a close-up of the tomatoes:
And here's the broccoli that decided to grow, finally, a year later after planting it the second year (from seed):
This last picture gives you a good idea of the bucket system. The bottom of the garden tower has some holes in it to all the moisture to escape. The compost cylinder in the middle has a trap door on the bottom where you can occasionally extract the solid composted material. I have yet to do this because....ta da! I'm lazy. This is my third growing year and I'll probably pull it out to make more room for compost.
A couple of caveats about the Tower:
1. These things do better in full sun, but I didn't want mine in full sun because that would plop it in the middle of the yard. So, the part of it shaded doesn't grow as quickly. The new Garden Towers fix this by making it able to rotate. I love that feature and can't wait to get a new one. They are due February of this year.
2. Don't plant tomatoes with strawberries. Tomatoes win. Put strawberries in their own tower.
3. Don't plant any obnoxious herbs. You know, the kind that have huge root systems and take over everything. I did this with Mint. Now, my mom is convinced I'm going to have to get new dirt and do the whole thing over. But I am lazy, remember, so I just keep yanking it out and things keep growing so whatever.
4. It's vertical. You don't have to bend. You don't have to weed. You don't have to really do much of anything but water it.
5. I did have to deal with nasty horned caterpillars that munch through tomatoes. They were at eye-level, fat and getting really healthy eating my tomato leaves. I went Rambo on their azzes.
6. I planted tomatoes that looked interesting. I've done vine and bushes, Cherry tomatoes, Romas, beefy ones. Don't ask me the variety name. I plant a bunch and see what grows. A weird thing happened this year in that I had tomato plants come back from the dead nine months later after getting a hard frost last March. I thought they were hopeless, left them there, and do you know those boogers started producing tomatoes this month? I have proof. Here they are:
Tomatoes are next to an apple for scale reference. I've let them sit for a bit. I wish I had kept track of this tomato variety because I think they're my favorite. They hang like a vine which is good because huge bushes on top of the tower can block the sun down the sides.
7. Vines like squash and watermelon should be planted near the bottom. They'll just craw along the ground if you have room for them. It's quite amazing. Possums ate mine, though. I hate possums.
8. I don't get weird or fancy with my compost.The idea of using human hair (as I read on one composting site) makes me want to barf, so I keep it straight forward and use kitchen scraps.
9. I've planted everything from carrots to beans to peppers to tomatoes to squash to every herb to marigolds to roses and yes, even hydrangeas. Everything grew...eventually. The broccoli was weird and came when it was darn well ready. Ditto the carrots. I planted every kind of lettuce and got sick of it I had so much.
10. I figured that with the money I saved not building raised beds (a necessity in Houston for drainage) and time, I broke even by year two. Maybe after year one. The Garden Tower produced so much (it's producing peppers and tomatoes in the winter right now, for heaven's sake, and yes we've had a bunch of freezes and no, I haven't covered them) that I give away veggies during the summer. We simply can't keep up once it's going strong.
I whole heartedly recommend the Garden Tower to everyone. The lazy will love the results. The industrious will probably be able to efficiently grow more of what they love than they thought possible.
Here's the re-designed and improved tower:
And here are some cool videos:
What to plant:
Bonus: KT asked me if I ever saw cockroaches. Answer: Never.
Y-not: Thanks, Melissa!
Now let's see what KT has in store for us this week:
Is your winter interest outdoors or indoors?
Not long ago, Y-not posted photos of trees noted for their winter features. She also linked some knock-you-socks-off landscapes from Western Russia featuring trees in snow. I thought about the photographer waiting in the wilderness to capture just the right light for each photo. I was glad it wasn't me.
I once read that most people who love winter actually love the prospect of feeling safe from the effects of winter. People like to have a ski lodge around after a few runs down the slopes. And what is an ice skating party at the old pond without a big kettle of resin-baked potatoes to warm your hands? Like we say here on the Saturday Gardening Thread, "Many parts of a pine tree are edible."
Anyway, the photos from Western Russia reminded me of Napoleon retreating from Moscow. He came back from this experience to fight another day, but thousands of his soldiers did not. Sometimes, it is much more appealing to be indoors than in the cold winter weather.
Over at the Garden Rant group blog, they have been arguing about whether there is even such a thing as "Winter Interest" in the garden. Three basic propositions have been presented:
Proposition #1: It is depressing to walk around in the garden during winter. Go inside and force some bulbs.
Proposition #2: The beauty of winter is mostly evident in sweeping landscapes. Get out of your yard.
Proposition #3: Of course you can have "Winter Interest" in your yard. Plan for lighting, hardscaping and bird-attracting features to enhance the view through your favorite window, while you are drinking hot cocoa.
Are you actually going out into your garden this time of year? Admiring it through a window? Avoiding the garden altogether?
Y-not: Thanks, KT! And now, here's our co-host, Weirddave:
The squirrel proof starter garden is practical and pretty damn clever, but anything can be a container garden, all you need is something to hold the dirt. Of course, you'll have to use your head,
and make sure you have the tools you need.
Be warned, container gardens can be a boatload of work,
and at the end of the day you'll just want to slip into bed.
Just remember, the whole point of home gardening is to enjoy yourself and have pun!
Y-not: Thanks, WD. Well, I have a lot of material left in my Inbox -- and we will be addressing the garden planning question that came up last week in future posts -- but let's wrap things up for now with amazing photos of ancient trees. Here's a sample:
"Elegant in shape and form, these strange and magnificent baobabs seem to rise effortlessly to heights of 98 feet, found only on the island of Madagascar."
Pretty sure these trees do NOT fit into planters, no matter how innovative!
What's happening in your neck of the woods this week?
**Updated the title b/c I forgot to add KT and Weirddave! Sorry!**
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Iranian General Killed By Unlimited Minutes Cell Plan and Israeli Missiles..... [CBD]
But mostly his unlimited cell plan
Clearly it is approaching the End Times: The shape shifters are now technologically aware.
Fundamental Concepts - The Aberration [Weirddave]
When I see, from the entire left side of the political spectrum, more and more strident demands to end Western culture as we know it, I wonder if these people have any clue exactly what it is that they are asking for. King Midas got exactly what he wanted, to his everlasting horror. There's a lesson in that, an important one, but one that I suspect is lost on someone who navigates through life by the seat of their righteousness, guided by the certainty of their conceit.
We have an entire segment of the population.....the race baiters, the SJWs, the various flavors of communists, anarchists, socialists and anarco-whatevers, feminists, gay rights crusaders, activists of every stripe.....all of who remind me of nothing so much as the proverbial fish who is ignorant of the water in which he is swimming. Like that same fish attempting to drill a hole in the bottom of his tank to "escape", I don't think that getting the results they claim to desire would be to their benefit at all.
Modern Western civilization is an aberration. The environment of freedom, productivity, wealth, tolerance and leisure that all of us enjoy has been around for a few hundred years at most, and on only a small portion of the planet at that. All of the rest of human history, heck the rest of the world today, tells a far different story, one where none of these leftists would even be allowed to exist. Oh, I suppose a vanishingly small percentage of them would be able to worm their way into the ruling class, but the majority would be utterly crushed. Can you imagine a thriving feminist movement in Saudi Arabia? Gay rights parades in Iran? Race baiters living off of the guilt of society in Middle Ages Europe? Hell, they were all the same race and they killed each other by the millions. When we see women getting their heads chopped of in Riyadh, or gays hung from gantry cranes in Teheran, or Boko Haram slaughtering entire villages, it isn't a "tragedy", it isn't a "shame", it isn't "barbarism" (actually, it is all of those things), what it is is the NORM. This is how human beings have behaved since the dawn of time.
It's the norm everywhere but here, that is. Now, there's noting different about us compared to anybody else in the world. People are people after all. But what is different is Western culture, and that's due the intersection of three great concepts over thousands of years. Think of it as a real life example of Sid Meier's Civilization. In that game, as civilizations discover new ideas and technologies, they are able to do new things. A civilization that has domesticated horses and learned to work bronze can produce chariots, for example. Without both advances, chariots are impossible. Let's follow this in real life.
The first leg of the three legged stool that supports Western civilization came from the Jews, and it's monotheism. The idea of one God as opposed to many different gods begats the concept of absolute right and wrong, which is necessary in order to have the concept of morality. Morality is what takes humans away from a world where might makes right.
The second leg came from the Greeks and Romans, and that's the idea that the world has certain natural laws, that these laws are universal, and that they can be studied and understood and even manipulated. From this comes science, of course, but a better term for this would be reason.
Finally, from the Anglo-Saxons we got the concept of rule of law. Just as there are universal natural laws that govern nature, so too must man's laws for governing man must be universal. Nobody is above the law, thus everyone is treated equally. Equality is the third leg.
Morality, Reason, Equality. I wish I spoke Latin, because I'd incorporate the three words into a personal coat of arms. The melding of these three concepts is what produced the West as we know it today. Islam certainly has it's own morality, but reason is subordinate to it and the concept of equality is foreign. Communism, Fascism, Marxism, Socialism and all of the other left wing totalitarian systems claim to be based upon reason, but what morality there is is subjected to an ever changing "greater good" as determined by a small elite which shoots rule of law right in the head. In fact, rule of law doesn't exist in any totalitarian system or oligarchy.
No, Western culture is the only place that all three have gained equal ascendancy, and that brings us back to where we started, because leftist political ideology is dedicated to destroying all three of the legs upon which our society rests.
Morality? To a leftist, there is no such thing, there is only expediency. Reason? If it advances the cause, great, if not, ignore it (Question the science behind global warming and you're a "denier", point out the correlation between concealed carry and low crime rates and you're a "nut"). Rule of Law? In Obama's America? Don't make me laugh (just think of the difference between how the government treats Cliven Bundy, who owes millions in grazing fees, and Al Sharpton, who owes millions in taxes), and the entire point of the social justice movement is to make sure people are not treated equally.
So what happens if these leftists get their way? I posit that Western society will revert to the norm, and that, except for the fraction of a percentage that will make it into the new ruling class, all of these leftists will be swept away with it. None of them would be allowed to survive in any other civilization in history. There's an old, old proverb that I suspect they will become intimately familiar with, albeit briefly. "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it".
To the barricades comrades, the basement of the Lubyanka awaits us all!
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Real Life Climatologist Roy Spencer On 2014 As The Hottest Year Ever: Nope! [CBD]
The guy has an actual PhD, in a discipline that might have some special insight into climate change. Yes, argument from authority is not popular around here, but in this case he really is a rocket scientist! And he really doesn't like the shabby analysis that passes for climatology nowadays.
Science as a methodology for getting closer to the truth has been all but abandoned. It is now just one more tool to achieve political ends.
This needs to be shouted from the rooftops, plastered across t-shirts, hammered into the skulls of every progressive who proclaims his dedication to rational thought but in reality worships at the altar of Moloch; willing to destroy anything for his own ends.
Oh....and he doesn't like journalists very much (I have a sneaking suspicion that he is a Moron)
Reports that 2014 was the "hottest" year on record feed the insatiable appetite the public has for definitive, alarming headlines. It doesn't matter that even in the thermometer record, 2014 wasn't the warmest within the margin of error. Who wants to bother with "margin of error"? Journalists went into journalism so they wouldn't have to deal with such technical mumbo-jumbo. I said this six weeks ago, as did others, but no one cares unless a mainstream news source stumbles upon it and is objective enough to report it.
This is an interesting, if slightly non-scientific point......
In what universe does a temperature change that is too small for anyone to feel over a 50 year period become globally significant? Where we don't know if the global average temperature is 58 or 59 or 60 deg. F, but we are sure that if it increases by 1 or 2 deg. F, that would be a catastrophe?
He is on quite a roll......
Where our only truly global temperature measurements, the satellites, are ignored because they don't show a record warm year in 2014?
In what universe do the climate models built to guide energy policy are not even adjusted to reflect reality, when they over-forecast past warming by a factor of 2 or 3?
And where people have to lie about severe weather getting worse (it hasn't)? Or where we have totally forgotten that more CO2 is actually good for life on Earth, leading to increased agricultural productivity, and global greening?
Go read it. I can't excerpt it all, but it's short, has some good links, and even has pictures!
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Saturday Morning Politics Thread: Who Isn't Running? [Y-not]
I'm still working on the next installment in our "issues" series in which we've been examining the records and positions of our top 7 GOP prospects, so I thought this weekend we could just talk about how the field is shaping up thus far.
This tweet sums things up rather nicely, I think:
Yesterday Jeb Bush flew to Utah to meet with Mitt Romney. (Supposedly, this meeting was schedule some time ago.) And it has also been reported that Romney will be holding a pow-wow on Friday (in Boston) with some of his top advisors.
Incidentally, although I knew that Romney was building a house in my neck of the woods (in addition to the one he already has in Park City), I had not realized that he'd switched residencies. He's now registered to vote in Utah.
Well, at least he'll be able to carry his home state this time around.
Who else has made moves with respect to 2016? Here's a very handy roundup from WaPo. (It's so good I abandoned the news roundup that I had been compiling as soon as I found this one.) Make sure to follow the link, but here's an excerpt:
* Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is convening a strategy session with his finance team today in the Sunshine State. And he is bringing on Anna Rogers, who is currently the finance director for the conservative supergroup American Crossroads, to head up fundraising for his PAC.
* Sarah Palin said she was "interested" in the race while "serving wild boar chili to the homeless" at the Salvation Army in Las Vegas."
* Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker just signed on David Polyansky, who served as senior strategist for Sen. Joni Ernst's 2014 campaign, to be his lead man in the key state of Iowa.
The list is huge.
In case you missed it, Paul Ryan announced that he is notrunning. This had an interesting effect on me -- I like him more, simply because I'm so sick of these other folks who play coy for months or start raising money for races they know they can't win.
So a very big field is shaping up. But -- don't fear! -- Reince Preibus is putting his foot down with respect to the "debates." GOP hopefuls will have to meet certain criteria in order to participate:
Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee chairman, says that potential presidential contenders will have to poll above certain levels to earn a spot in the GOP debates.
In a radio interview on the "Hugh Hewitt Show" Monday, the conservative host asked Priebus how the debates would work if there were 20 candidates vying to be heard.
"You can't," Priebus said. "You can't do 20 people. ...You have to have certain thresholds in place, so you have to be at 1 percent of the vote in Iowa, and that threshold can move like a slide rule based on the proximity to the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primaries, just like it did before."
Priebus said the thresholds would be determined in coordination between the RNC and the media outlet conducting the debate and that none of the minimum requirements had yet been set.
So the upshot is that once again Iowa -- and the networks -- will be playing major roles in choosing our candidates for us.
If Reince thinks that the biggest problem was who was on stage rather than who was asking the questions he must have slept through 2012.
In any event, here's the debate schedule:
1. Fox News, August 2015, Ohio
2. CNN, September 2015, California
3. CNBC, October 2015, Colorado
4. Fox Business, November 2015, Wisconsin
5. CNN, December 2015, Nevada
6. Fox News, January 2016, Iowa
7. ABC News, February 2016, New Hampshire
8. CBS News, February 2016, South Carolina
9. NBC/Telemundo, February 2016, Florida
Fox News, March 2016, TBD
CNN, March 2016, TBD
Conservative Media Debate, Date TBD, Locations TBD
And, courtesy of Frontloading HQ, here's the current status of the 2016 Presidential Primaries:
The solid dark and solid medium blue states are scheduled for February and March, respectively. Quite a few states are working on legislation to determine their primary dates as well. (Follow the link above to read their rather detailed figure legend.)
For fun, let's have a few polls. First, whom do you expect to have thrown their hat into the ring by the time the first debate rolls around?
OK, out of that total field (ie: everyone listed; assume they all run), please choose your top four candidates*:
*Poll fixed: I had accidentally left off Scott Walker.
Finally, out of that entire field of candidates, for whom would you not be willing/able to vote in the General Election?
So what do you think? Do the good prospects make up for all of the bad ones?
Who are your favorites thus far?
See you next week!
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