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Monday, December 31, 2012

Must read: excellent resolution

"Thirteen years ago, I happened to be at my folks for New Year's."

"Both my Dad and my significant other were asleep in couches and Mom and I were sitting drinking and gossiping."

The subject of resolutions came up and somehow we decided we were going to do a good deed at least once every day for a year.

It seemed so much better than depriving ourselves of something or quitting something or losing weight or whatever. It could be as simple as letting someone ahead of us in traffic, helping a person find the right aisle in the grocery or even being nice to a telemarketer.

My Mom passed away that year. I have done a good deed every day since, for the last thirteen years. And every time I do, I think of her.

Pandacillin? Giant Panda May be New Source for Antibiotics

The antibiotic is thought to be released by the bear’s immune system to protect them infections when they are living in the wild. Researchers discovered the compound, known as cathelicidin-AM, after analysing the panda’s DNA.

Dr Xiuwen Yan, who led the research at the Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University in China, said: “It showed potential antimicrobial activities against wide spectrum of microorganisms including bacteria and fungi, both standard and drug-resistant strains.

more at Neatorama.

Every Batman Actor’s Face Morphed into One Perfect Bruce Wayne

Good-looking guy.  Via io9.

Seniors: they didn't get old by being stupid


via .

Asparagus, Famous Heavy Drinkers tips, science and more: hangover prevention (and cure) roundup

Be prepared.

According to a 2009 study in the Journal of Food Science, the amino acids and minerals found in asparagus extract may alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells against toxins.

I don't drink much at this point in my life, but I do remember that large doses of B complex vitamins prior to drinking were supposed to help.  Ed swears by 2 aspirin swallowed with a shot of Pepto Bismol before you go to bed.

Here are cures from 12 Famous Heavy Drinkers.


Dark Liquor Makes For Worse Hangovers.


How to Cure a Hangover

Got any tips to pass along?

So what's really going on with Hillary?

She hasn't been seen since Dec. 7.

She was admitted to NY Presbyterian Hospital yesterday with a blood clot.

National Enquirer says it's a brain tumor.  Yeah, I know I should consider the source, but they certainly were way ahead on all of the John Edwards stuff.

Drudge has a bunch of links:

NFL head coach tracker: Ax falls fast on Black Monday

Firings so far:

Arizona Cardinals
Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves are out, according to a team source reports NFL.com Ian Rapoport.
Buffalo Bills: Coach Chan Gailey was let go after three seasons that went nowhere in Buffalo. The defense and quarterback play never improved. It's unclear if general manager Buddy Nix will remain.
Chicago Bears: In the first mild surprise of the day, coach Lovie Smith was fired after three playoff appearances in nine years, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported. General manager Phil Emery took the job last year and will hire his own man.
Cleveland Browns: The team announced Monday morning that coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert are both out. They never had much of a chance once new owner Jimmy Haslam bought the team.
Kansas City Chiefs: Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt announced the team has parted ways with coach Romeo Crennel. The team said it has not made a final decision about GM Scott Pioli's status. NFL.com's Steve Wyche reported Sundaythat the Chiefs are expected to retain Pioli despite a disastrous season.
Philadelphia Eagles: Owner Jeffrey Lurie confirmed Monday morning that coach Andy Reidis out after 14 seasons in Philadelphia. The Eagles won't waste any time starting a coaching search.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers announced both coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith have been let go.

Judicial Watch's 10 Most Corrupt Politicians of 2012

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2012 list of Washington’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians.”

High School Yearbook Photos of Famous Movie Monsters


via Laughing Squid.

Mark Steyn: Laws Are for Little People

David Gregory intended to demonstrate what he regards as the absurdity of America’s lax gun laws. Instead, he’s demonstrating the ever greater absurdity of America’s non-lax laws. His investigation, prosecution, and a sentence of 20–30 years with eligibility for parole after ten (assuming Mothers Against High-Capacity Magazines don’t object) would teach a far more useful lesson than whatever he thought he was doing by waving that clip under LaPierre’s nose.

Three days after scofflaw Gregory committed his crime, a bail hearing was held in Massachusetts for Andrew Despres, 20, who’s charged with trespassing and possession of ammunition without a firearms license. Mr. Despres was recently expelled from Fitchburg State University and was returning to campus to pick up his stuff. Hence the trespassing charge. At the time of his arrest, he was wearing a “military-style ammunition belt.” Hence, the firearms charge.

His mom told WBZ that her son purchased the belt for $20 from a punk website and had worn it to class every day for two years as a “fashion statement.” He had no gun with which to fire the bullets. Nevertheless, Fitchburg police proudly displayed the $20 punk-website ammo belt as if they’d just raided the Fitchburg mafia’s armory, and an obliging judge ordered Mr. Despres held on $50,000 bail. Why should there be one law for Meet the Press and another for Meet Andrew Despres? Because David Gregory throws better cocktail parties?

NYT: "Let’s Give Up on the Constitution"

AS the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.

The Mega Scandal Everyone Has Forgotten

Fannie, Freddie, and Congress get off scot-free.

New Year's Eve links

Not all end-of-year related, but Happy New Year anyway!

Who owns the fish, a brainteaser supposedly written by Einstein.

Security garden gnome conceals wireless camera and motion sensors.

Top Scientific Discoveries of 2012.

The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever.

An excellent set of vintage holiday photos.

Dave Barry’s Year in Review.

Dispose of your Christmas tree by attaching a few rockets.

Dispose of your Christmas tree by attaching a few rockets

and shooting it into the air:



Here's a previous version:


via Gizmodo.

RG3!!! And Alfred Morris!!!

Just needed to get that out of my system.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Swaziland Outlaws “Rape-Provoking” Clothing.

Police in Africa's last absolute monarchy Swaziland have banned women from wearing miniskirts and midriff-revealing tops, saying they provoke rape, local media reported on Monday.

And this:

However, the ban does not apply to traditional costumes worn by young women during ceremonies like the annual Reed Dance, where the ruling King Mswati III chooses a wife.

The flamboyant king already has 13 wives.

Presenting The Shocking Source Of US Treasury Demand In The Past Year

Links and comments at ZeroHedge.  Domo arigato Japan. Don't expect to get any of this money back though.


P.J. O'Rourke: Dear Mr. President, Zero-Sum Doesn't Add Up

The worst thing that you've done internationally is what you've done domestically. You sent a message to America in your re-election campaign. Therefore you sent a message to the world. The message is that we live in a zero-sum universe.

There is a fixed amount of good things. Life is a pizza. If some people have too many slices, other people have to eat the pizza box. You had no answer to Mitt Romney's argument for more pizza parlors baking more pizzas. The solution to our problems, you said, is redistribution of the pizzas we've got—with low-cost, government-subsidized pepperoni somehow materializing as the result of higher taxes on pizza-parlor owners.

Dave Barry’s Year in Review

So, OK, basically we need to forget about 2012 as soon as possible. But just so we can remember exactly what it is we need to forget, let’s pour ourselves a stiff drink and take a look back at the train wreck we’re staggering away from.

US sailors sue Tokyo Power for masking radiation danger

Eight US Navy sailors are suing Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) for hundreds of millions of dollars over allegations the Japanese firm lied to them about radiation dangers after a tsunami-triggered meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The sailors accuse TEPCO of deceiving their commanders about radiation levels as the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan took part in relief operations following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, according to a complaint filed in US federal court in southern California.

Links and comments at HotAir.

Biblical self-defense: the musical version



via IMAO.

Nine scary bird attacks that really happened

In the wake of last week's phony Eagle-Steals-Baby viral video, Mary Katherine Ham does some research.

Ammunition Levels Less Than 10% of Pre-Election Levels

Nation running out of ammo

Philadelphia arson site targeted because it is being built with nonunion labor.

The site where Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting is building a new meetinghouse was damaged by arsonists during Christmas week, and police are now "absolutely" sure the attack was the result of a dispute between members of a Philadelphia construction union and the project's nonunion contractor.

Thomas Friedman Op/Ed Generator

Brilliant.

Before there was Laffer: Churchill on the fiscal cliff

Churchill was part of the early supply-side revolution, arguing for—and succeeding—in reducing Britain’s high wartime income tax rates when he was chancellor of the exchequer in the 1920s. From one of his speeches in the House of Commons, from May 1925.

"I believe most firmly that the rate of direct taxation upon income was producing a chill and a check upon the enterprise and upon the conceiving energy of the country to an extent certainly far higher than in any other country in the world, and far more heavy in its effect than in any other country in the world. Yet this country, where direct taxation has reached unprecedented and unparalleled dimensions, is also, we find, the country where, at the other end of the social scale, this extraordinary phenomenon of unemployment has manifested itself in the most distressing form. It is said by some that there is no connection between the two. The theory of the hon. Gentlemen opposite is that, the more taxes you pile upon wealth, the greater the benefit to the working classes. Our theory is exactly the opposite, and we are prepared to confront you, not only with continuous argument on that subject, but we hope, having three or four years of power and authority, to confront you with the proved results of the opposite theory.

The hon. Gentleman spoke about the relation of the rate of Income Tax to unemployment. He said, “How foolish it is to imagine that by reducing Income Tax you improve employment.” The fact, however, is that the country with the highest rate of direct taxation is also the country with the highest unemployment. That is the fact. It may be a coincidence. But when the Income Tax was reduced by 1 shilling and then by 6d., there was a great improvement. When the Income Tax was 6 shillings in the Pound there were over 2-1/4 million persons unemployed. Now that the Income Tax has been reduced to 4 shillings 6d. in the Pound that figure has fallen to 1-1/4 million people unemployed. . .

I think, in the time at our disposal, we shall succeed in establishing the soundness of the grounds on which we have acted, and the results which will be effected in the general life of the country by three or four years of steady policy from one broad point of view will be sensibly appreciated by all classes in the State."

Still another reason why Obama doesn’t want that Churchill bust around the Oval Office to remind him of what a real statesman is like.

Labor Union Fights Liquor Store Privatization in Pennsylvania

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, which counts about 3,000 state liquor store employees among its members, is the most visible and vocal opponent of privatizing the state-owned liquor monopoly.

French court overturns "millionaire tax"

Not in principle, though: The court's ruling took issue not with the size of the tax, but with the way it discriminated between households depending on how incomes were distributed among its members. A household with two earners each making under €1 million would be exempt from the tax, while one with one earner making €1.2 million would have to pay.

And this:

The largely symbolic measure would have only hit a tiny number of taxpayers and brought in an estimated €100 million to €300 million - an insignificant amount in the context of France's roughly €85 billion deficit.

In recent weeks, Gerard Depardieu — France's most famous actor — announced his intention to turn in his French passport and move to a village in a tax-friendly Belgium.

Friday, December 28, 2012

FBI files on 'Communist' Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller revealed for first time in 50 years

The files had previously been heavily redacted, but more details are now public in a version of the file recently obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act.

Video: Clifford the big red fiscal cliff dog

Will 'Fiscal Cliff' Accelerate Millionaire Deaths?

There is good evidence that there is some "elasticity" in the timing of important decisions about life and death.

"Death elasticity" does not necessarily mean that greedy relatives are pulling the plug on the dying or forcing the sickly to extend their lives into a lower taxed period. According to a 2008 paper from University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Doctor G. Stuart Mendenhall, while tax increases give potential heirs large economic incentives to limit care that would prolong life, distressed patients may "voluntarily trade prolongation of their life past the end [a low tax period] for large financial implications for their kin.

"Whether these incentives are explicitly specified in wills or communicated to their power of attorney over the dinner table, they are clearly present and affect the ability of all involved parties to make unbiased decisions," Mendenhall writes.

Ozzy Osbourne International Airport?

If an idea to rename a city airport after one local hero takes off, Black Sabbath fans will be very happy.

Boy Uses AR15 To Stop A Home Invasion

Thank God they had the gun.  Via Doug Ross.

What Kind Of Dinosaur Meat Would Taste Best?

An ostrich-like dinosaur known as an ornithomimid would probably yield the most consumer-friendly cut of meat, while still maintaining a unique dinosaur taste.

Much of the flavor in a cut of meat comes from its fat composition, and an animal’s diet contributes significantly to this. However, due to the average consumer’s taste for meat that is not too strong-tasting, it is more important to figure out what we don’t want the animals we consume to be eating. Dinosaurs that ate marine animals would definitely be off the list, not only for their fishy flavor, but also because the high amount of oil in fish would make the meat more susceptible to oxidation, which would give it a rancid taste. In fact, any carnivorous dinosaur would not fare too well in the supermarket. Most people prefer meat that comes from herbivorous animals—think cow, deer, bison— since animal fat found in a carnivore’s diet adds a significant amount of “gamey” flavor. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The 25 Funniest AutoCorrects Of 2012

These are funny as hell - see the whole list here. NSFW (language)




Fiscal cliff put in perspective


Lesson # 1:
  • U.S. Tax Revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
  • Federal Budget: $3,820,000,000,000
  • New Debt: $1,650,000,000,000
  • National Debt: $14,271,000,000,000
  • Recent Budget cuts: 38,500,000,000
Let’s now remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budge:
  • Annual family income: $21,700
  • Money the family spent: $38,200
  • New debt on the credit card: $16,500
  • Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
  • Total budget cuts so far: $385
Got it?…. OK now…
Lesson # 2
Here’s another way of looking at the Debt Ceiling:
Let’s say you come home from work and find there has been a sewer backup in your neighborhood… and your home has sewage all the way up to your ceilings.  What do you think you should do?
Raise the ceiling or remove the shit?

The Greatest SciFi Porn Movies 1961-1991 [NSFW]

There's no way to condense this down - go see the whole thing at io9.  They say they'll be doing the films from 1992 to the present soon.

RIP General Norman Schwarzkopf (1934 - 2012)

Ave atque vale.

Schwarzkopf, who commanded the U.S.-led international coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait in 1991, has died.

The story of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven"

Written by Robert Plant (lyrics) and guitarist Jimmy Page (melody) Stairway to Heaven is not only Led Zeppelin’s signature song, it may well be the most beloved rock song of all-time. If not, it is generally on almost every rock critic’s, expert’s, and fan’s list of greatest and/or favorite songs.

One of the most discussed and dissected facets of Stairway to Heaven is its actual meaning. Robert Plant has touched on the subject on more than one occasion. According to Plant:

My hand was writing out the words “There’s a lady is sure (sic) all that glitters is gold and she’s buying a stairway to heaven.” I just sat there and looked at them and almost leapt out of my head… It was some cynical aside about a woman getting everything she wanted all the time without giving any thought or consideration. That first line begins with that cynical sweep of the hand… and it softened up after that.”

Fair enough, but in a later interview, Plant is less nebulous and fairly clear that Stairway to Heaven has no actual meaning. Plant: “Depending on what day it is, I still interpret the song a different way- and I wrote it.”

Twas The Night Before Fiscliff


Twas the night before Fiscliff, when all through the House
Not a statesman was stirring, not even to grouse.
Neither bills nor amendments have much of a prayer
Since hope and change fever brought gridlock to bear.

The citizens pondered in fear and in dread,
What will happen if off the cliff we go instead?
Obama was sure he set Boehner a trap
To force taxes higher, give rich folks a slap.

When on CNN there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to the set to see what was the matter.
Wolf Blitzer was shouting, he had a news flash,
Was a formula found that would scare up fresh cash?

The gloom had sent stock markets gyrating so,
While the luster of gold lured all those in the know.
When, what on the six o’clock news should appear,
But a fat helicoptering cash bombardier.

With a bearded bald driver, both facile and quick,
It must be the man with the Keynesian shtick.
Like a fire hose shower, liquidity came,
As he whistled, and shouted, and passed out the blame.

“Now Geithner! Now Sperling! More interest rate fixing!
On, Krugman! On, Goolsbee! It’s cash we’ll be mixing!
We must make sure aggregate demand won’t fall!
Now spend away! Spend away! Spend away all!”

If you give me control of the money supply,
I will make the debt grow ’til it reaches the sky.
If this starts to give you stimulus déjà vu,
Just you wait ‘til you see infinite QE2.

So have no fear, kick the can, you don’t need proof.
Go ahead and let spending go right through the roof!
By this point my head was fast spinning around,
When fat Ben Bernanke came up with a bound.

He was dressed all in greenbacks, from head to his foot,
That must have stuck to him, their value kaput.
A bundle of cash he had flung on his back,
Like every historic inflationist hack.

His eyes, how they shifted! His glibness so merry!
Pretending to be a prudent actuary.
“I know what I’m doing!” his words much did flow.
“My magic will make unemployment go low.”

How easily this man can lie through his teeth,
Yet the smoke he was blowing gave me no relief.
He turned to make yet one more speech to the telly,
His statements as firm as a bowlful of jelly!

Then back to his copter, as quick as a whistle,
He unleashed one more fiat currency missile.
And as he took off, all heard just what he said,
“In the long run remember that we are all dead.”

Ancient Conehead-Like ‘Alien’ Skulls Unearthed In Mexico

I thought they were from France.

An archaeological discovery of 13 “conehead”-shaped skulls in Mexico has people recalling the famed Saturday Night Live sketch. The bones, which are about 1,000 years old, dating from 945 A.D. to 1308 A.D.

The rise of alternative schooling

Iran dismisses only female minister

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sacked Health Minister Marziyeh Vahid Dastjerdi, the sole woman in his cabinet, state television reports.

Ms Dastjerdi was also the first woman minister in the 30-year history of the Islamic republic.

Rick Santelli Screams 'The Fed Doesn't Have A Clue' As Traders Cheer

CNBC's Rick Santelli has done it again.

During today's rant, Santelli went absolutely nuts on Jim Iurio of TJM Institutional Services screaming, "The Fed doesn't have a clue neither does the president neither does congress...Neither does Tim Geithner who gives a speech about the debt ceiling. I'd like to see if he could count to a million much less 16.4 trillion!"

Traders from the CBOT floor then started cheering.

Senate Debating Warrantless Domestic Spying Today; Vote Pending

A vote is expected today.

Flatulence pants fly off the shelves in Japan

"Our initial target was old people with bowel issues", Mr Imai tells me.

"We were targeting nursing homes and hospitals, but then young people started buying them.

Apparently, people in all age groups have flatulence problems", he says.

JibJab Year In Review 2012: The End Is Here!

Thursday links

Is it Better to Walk or Run in the Rain?  Two convincing videos that come to opposite conclusions.  Kind of related: Half the Facts You Know Are Probably Wrong.

A History of Wine Labels

There's a new World's Largest Pizza record.

A Brief History of Nerf.  And Twister.

Trampled Snow Art.  More here.

Baby Jesus Soothed with Bagpipes


Frank J.: Math Is Coming

Read the whole thing:

Right now the Republicans and Democrats are hotly debating which of their two wholly inadequate plans we should use to avoid the fiscal cliff, but looking at the size of the deficit, they’re proposing different-sized Band-Aids where a tourniquet is needed. If you point this out, you’re called a Tea Party extremist who wants to throw old people off a cliff and deny underprivileged Ivy League law students free birth control. “You silly person. Budgets don’t have to balance. That’s just a superstition.”

Obama wants Math locked completely out of the fiscal cliff talks and instead wants unlimited power to raise the debt ceiling and then tax the rich because of the demands of Fairness — Fairness being the left’s favorite imaginary friend. Math won’t stop laughing at Obama’s plan to pay for everything by taxing the rich, so Obama just won’t work with it at all.
The Republicans at least acknowledge that Math exists but are only trying to compromise with it. We’re broke, and Obama wants to buy a Ferrari we can’t afford, and they’re trying to argue him down to a BMW we can’t afford. I guess they think if they make some changes to entitlements, Math will just relent and allow 2 + 2 to equal 5 so the rest will add up.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ex-President George H.W. Bush in intensive care unit at Houston hospital

Boston Herald.

Peter Parker's fate in the final issue of "The Amazing Spider-Man," comic

***SPOILER ALERT***

Read the whole thing here.

In a heart-wrenching plot twist for one of Marvel's most relatable superheroes, the comic book giant has killed the nerdy, down-on-his-luck science-whiz who first developed an arachnid alter-ego in 1962 and decided to use his "great power" for good. In "Amazing Spider-Man's" 700th and final issue, Spider-Man loses a final showdown with his arch-nemesis, Doctor Octopus, after which the latter assumes Peter Parker's body, mind and memories.

German tax collectors suggest toilet logs

Authorities recommended the 1.5 million truck drivers in the country keep records of how often they go to the restroom and how long they spend on the toilet, so they can accurately determine how much of their income should be written off when their taxes are calculated.

Doctors save man's life by injecting alcohol directly into his heart

UK doctors have saved a man's life using an unconventional treatment - a shot of neat alcohol into the arteries supplying his heart.

Where's Hillary?

On December 15, the day after the day after the shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, State Department officials notified the press that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had fallen ill. "While suffering from a stomach virus, Secretary Clinton became dehydrated and fainted, sustaining a concussion," deputy assistant secretary Philippe Reines said in a statement to the press. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Jack Klugman, RIP (1922-2012)

Jack Klugman, best know from his work in televsion playing Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple and the starring role in Quincy, M.E., passed away today at age 90.

Study: Women with large breasts are smarter

A study by a Chicago university sociologist of 1,200 women found that large-breasted women tend to have higher intelligence. The study divided the women into five groups ranging from virtually flat-chested to extra-large breasts.

Suburban NY Newspaper Releases Interactive Map of Where Local Gun Permit Owners Live

Ever wonder why people don't want to register their weapons?

Map: Where are the gun permits in your neighborhood?

Good news: incredible Norwegian kicker may get an NFL offer. Bad news: from the Jets.



More info here.

Heh

via Protein Wisdom.

DEATH BATTLE! - Batman VS Spider-Man

Forget About Chimneys: Think Wormholes If You Want To See Santa

Science says Santa's been tricking us with that reindeer stuff.

Man with mechanical heart overdoses on Brussels sprouts

The traditional Christmas vegetable contain lots of vitamin K which promotes blood clotting.

However, this counteracted the effect of anticoagulants the man was taking because he had a mechanical heart.

image via Arbroath

Should Santa Claus still be fat?

Bah, humbug at CNN.

Grandma Got Indefinitely Detained (A Very TSA Christmas)

Christmas Eve links

Why Did NORAD Start Tracking Santa?

Ralphie teamed up with Flash Gordon in a deleted scene from A Christmas Story.

A collection of downloadable templates for Star Wars snowflakes.

The story of the real life George Bailey of It's a Wonderful Life.

A Field Guide To Christmas Plants and Animals

The 1914 Christmas truce.

Why Did NORAD Start Tracking Santa?

On December 24, 1955, a local newspaper in Colorado ran a Sears Roebuck ad inviting kids to contact Santa.

“Hey Kiddies!” the ad read. “Call me on my private phone and I will talk to you personally any time day or night.” The ad listed Santa’s direct line, but the number in the copy was off by a digit. Instead of connecting to the special line Sears set up with a Santa impersonator, kids wound up calling a secret air defense emergency number.

After a few more Santa-related calls, Shoup pulled a few airmen aside and gave them a special assignment. They would answer the phone and give callers—barring the Pentagon, we assume—Santa’s current location as they “tracked” him on their radar.

Previously: 4 ways to track Santa this Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Festivus

Wow, I've got a lot of complaints to air this year.

Lots of Festivus info here.

It's a Pole

(Sung to the tune of 'Let it Snow')

Oh the Festivus party is starting,
And the guests are just arriving.
What's that thing over there?
It's a pole! It's a pole! It's a pole!

It doesn't require decorating,
Because tinsel is way too distracting.
It's unadorned and made of aluminum,
It's a pole! It's a pole! It's a pole!

Finally we air our grievances,
There's problems with all you people.
But if you really do it right,
Somebody will be sobbing tonight.

There's still more fun to unfold,
Cause it's time to pin the head of the household.
The feats of strength will happen now!
Move the pole! Move the pole! Move the pole!

Is it Better to Walk or Run in the Rain? (Updated)

Via It's Okay To Be Smart, a video on the logical and physical analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of various mid-precipitation avoidance strategies.



And here's Mythbusters proving the opposite:



UPDATED: As per an anonymous commenter, Mythbusters re-visited the question and came to the opposite conclusion:

REVISITED: You end up drier running in the rain than walking. 

CONFIRMED

When retrying the test in actual rain it was conclusively proven that the running test subject got less wet than the walking test subject. The use of artificial rain in the original test led to a false negative.

Finally - realistic looking stick on public hair

A pair of students in Japan reckon they've got the practical joke market by the short and curlies - after inventing realistic looking stick on public hair.

Police in riot gear stop brawl among parents at kids´ football game

Police in riot gear flooded the field of a youth football game in Southern California to stop a brawl that involved dozens and possibly hundreds of adult spectators.

20 Very Interesting Photos From The ’30s

Einstein with an Einstein puppet
Stalin making a face at his bodyguard

Churchill's 1941 Christmas message

From a broadcast Churchill made from the White House on his visit to FDR in December 1941 a few weeks after Pearl Harbor was attacked:

Let the children play and have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and the formidable years that lie before us, resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied their right to live in a free and decent world.

And so, in God’s mercy, a happy Christmas to you all.

via PowerLine.

During eulogy for Senator Inouye, Obama refers to himself 63 times...

In the short 1,600 word speech, Obama used the word "my" 21 times, "me" 12 times, and "I" 30 times.

7 Codes You’ll Never Ever Break

Read the whole thing at Wired: We've asked Kevin Knight – the University of Southern California computer scientist who recently helped crack the 250-year-old Copiale cipher – to walk us through seven of the most confounding codes and give us an idea of what makes these things so tough to break.

Video: Die Hard Christmas tribute

NSFW (language)

Fascinating story: the real life George Bailey from "It's a Wonderful Life"

Read the whole thing: The real life “George Bailey” (It’s a Wonderful Life), who founded the Bank of Italy which became Bank of America, was A.P. Giannini.  

Taxpayers Aren't Stationary Targets

Good article at Reason on why tax increases, which are disincentives to productivity, don't increase tax revenue.  It seems extraordinary to me that people are still ignorant of this blindingly obvious fact, but there you are.

12/23/1823: The Poem “The Night Before Christmas” was Published Anonymously

Before this poem was published, traditions surrounding St. Nicholas were numerous with no real set, near universally accepted idea of “Santa Claus” like we have today. As such, many of the Santa Claus traditions we have set today actually were popularized by this poem. For instance: the names and number of Santa’s reindeer (Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen, with the latter Donder and Blitzen meaning “Thunder” and “Lightning”); Santa’s means of transportation; that Santa Claus visited houses on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day; the overall appearance of Santa Clause; and that Santa brought toys to children.

There's a dispute about authorship.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Women Shortening or Removing Toes to Wear High Heels

...shortening toes is just one of the procedures women are turning to in order to make wearing uncomfortable shoes less painful. Other solutions include injecting collagen into the balls of the feet for added cushion, or completely removing the pinky to make the foot fit better inside the shoe.

NYT calls for limits on “high capacity ammunition.”

Via Instapundit, who says, "This is like an old lady worrying about teenagers "shooting up marijuana".

"13 mice, each coated in a lubricant"

Ick.

Amazing leaf sculptures


Check out the whole set here.

Gold bars the size of a credit card can be broken into 1 gram pieces and used as payment in emergency

Tiny gold bars latest rage for jittery investors

The advantage of the "CombiBar" - which has been dubbed a "chocolate bar" because pieces can be easily broken off by hand into one gram squares - is that it can be easily transported and costs less than buying 50 one gram bars.

Where do they find these weirdos? Ambassador to Finland Sends Out Bizarre Muscle Card For Christmas

Before he was selected by Obama for an ambassadorship, Oreck was a professional bodybuilder. He is also the son of David Oreck, the king of vacuum cleaners, and he was picked to represent the U.S. in Finland after he raised more than $500,000 in donations for Obama’s campaign in 2008. 


A reminder of who John Kerry is

Spicy Grandma, and other interesting menu translations


Part of 15 Hilarious Menu Items That Got Lost in Translation

Video: post-apocalyptic news and weather


Post Apocalypse News - watch more funny videos      

4 ways to track Santa this Christmas Eve

We've always used the NORAD Santa Tracker in my family, and in Google Maps (starting on Christmas eve) you can just type Santa in the search box to get information.  More information at Cnet, and there are ios and android apps for each of the methods.


Baby Congress Tackles The Fiscal Cliff, unable to resolve before naptime



via Presurfer.

Friday, December 21, 2012

3D-Printing Gun Design Crackdown

3D-Printing Firm Makerbot Cracks Down On Printable Gun Designs.

Although as the article says, “The Internet routes around censorship.”

Father faces jail for spraying Liquid Ass in son’s school

The day after his boy is suspended for doing it.

Preview of Obama remarks: Narcissistic diatribe followed by casting blame, false statements of unity, then taxpayer paid trip to HI

Heh.

Another Victory Against HHS Contraception Mandate

Five of seven cases in which for-profit business owners have obtained injunctive relief.

In the wonderfully named American Pulverizer Co. v. U.S. Dep’t of HHS, federal district judge Richard E. Dorr soundly ruled that all the relevant factors favored the entry of injunctive relief.

In particular, on the question of probability of success on the merits, Judge Dorr, unlike the confused Tenth Circuit panel, properly recognized that the “substantial burden” component of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act claim was simple: “Plaintiffs must either pay for a health care plan that includes drugs and services to which they religiously object or incur fines.” Dorr explained that the ACLU’s claim that the insured “individual’s own decision to use the contraceptive services” somehow negated the substantiality of the burden was contrary to Supreme Court precedent.

Related post at NRO: Another Court Outs the Obama Administration’s Religious-Freedom Farce.

Mark Steyn: Massacre of the Innocents

Had my child been among the dead of December 14, I don’t know that I would ever again trust the contours of the world. The years go by, and you’re sitting in a coffee shop with a neighbor, and out of the corner of your eye a guy walks in who looks a little goofy and is maybe muttering to himself: Is he just a harmless oddball — or the prelude to horror? The bedrock of life has been shattered, and ever after you’re walking on a wobbling carpet with nothing underneath. For a parent to bury a child offends against the natural order — at least in an age that has conquered childhood mortality. For a parent to bury a child at Christmas taints the day forever, and mocks its meaning.

For those untouched by death this Christmas, someone else’s bewildering, shattering turn of fate ought to occasion a little modesty and circumspection. Instead, even by its usual execrable standards, the public discourse post-Newtown has been stupid and contemptible.

EPA withdraws threat against W.Va. chicken farmer

Farmer filed suit after EPA threatened fines of $37.5K daily for allowing rain to fall on stray chicken feathers, dust, manure.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Atlantic: best videos of 2012

"From People Who Have the Best Taste in Videos."

via Michael Yon, the unclassified Benghazi report

Here's the PDF of the whole thing.

Video: Drug testing on spiders

Excellent must read post at Ace: Where Do We Go From Here?


Here we are in this unthinkable place, wondering how in the hell we got here—how our friends and neighbors could betray us this way … how such a fiercely proud, prosperous and inherently decent nation could become so mean, petty and small.

I am not here to analyze this past election. I admit I don’t have the answers. I don’t relate to or understand an electorate that willingly loots from its fellow countrymen and, when that isn’t enough to satisfy its insatiably greed and snotty, self-righteous entitlement, smashes open the piggy banks of future generations and helps itself to the spoils.

Here’s what I do know: Economic calamity is inevitable. This past election was our last dim hope of avoiding it. We failed. The moment has slipped our grasp and with it the die is cast.

Here’s something I want you to internalize: All that anger, turmoil and hopelessness you’re experiencing comes from a feeling of helplessness.

But that’s all it is—a feeling. You’re not helpless at all. You only think you are.

Here’s how I know:

Winners win.

h/t @ComradeArthur

Christmas Quotation #1



Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks, some leagues or so from shore, on which the waters chafed and dashed the wild year through, there stood a solitary lighthouse. Great heaps of sea-weed clung to its base, and storm-birds -- born of the wind one might suppose, as sea-weed from the water -- rose and fell about it, like the waves they skimmed.

But even here, two men who watched the light had made a fire, that through the loophole in the thick stone wall shed out a ray of brightness over the awful sea. Joining their horny hands over the rough table at which they sat, they wished each other Merry Christmas in their can of grog; and one of them -- the elder, too, with his face all damaged and scarred with hard weather, as the figure-head of an old ship might be -- struck up a sturdy song that was like a gale in itself.
- Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol, Stave 3)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) began writing his "Little Carol" in October 1843 and finished it by the end of November in time to be published for the Christmas trade in an edition with illustrations by John Leech. In the 10th installment of The Pickwick Papers (1836), Dickens had included a Christmas tale whose protagonist was the grave-digger Gabriel Grub, who became the prototype for Ebenezer Scrooge. Also, in the same month he began the story, Dickens had been invited to speak in Manchester and stayed there at the home of his older sister, Fan, one of whose sons was a frail cripple and apparently the model for Tiny Tim. A Christmas Carol is, in fact, the first and best of five novellas, known collectively as The Christmas Books, which share a common theme.

Taken from Ed's Quotation of the day, only available via email: these three (this is the first) Christmas quotations are a long QOTD tradition.  If you'd like to be added to the list, please leave your email address in the comment section.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

(Several) Nights Only- All Seven Planets Visible in One Night

Ace has useful details and sky maps.

Harry Reid in 2004: “I carried a gun with me everywhere I went”

More at HotAir: Reid fondly recalls the days of sport shooting with his three brothers, and how Reid protected himself against “a lot of bad people” while serving on the Nevada Gaming Commission.



"People who criticize this probably would criticize baseball or football or soccer."

Judge Bork, RIP 1927-2012

Died early this morning from heart complications in a Virginia hospital near his home. He was 84.

But by far the most important fuel for fame was the riveting, not to say obscene, attack upon his candidacy for the Supreme Court in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan.

The vicious campaign waged against Judge Bork set a new low—possibly never exceeded—in the exhibition of unbridled leftist venom, indeed hate. Reporters combed through the Borks trash hoping to find comprising tidbits; they inspected his movie rentals, and were disgusted to find the films of John Wayne liberally represented. So hysterical was the campaign against Judge Bork that a new transitive verb entered our political vocabulary: “To Bork,” scruple at nothing in order to discredit and defeat a political figure.

The so-called “Lion of the Senate,” Ted Kennedy, surely one of the most despicable men ever to hold high public office in the United States (yes, that’s saying something), stood on the Senate floor and emitted a serious of calumnious lies designed not simply to prevent Judge Bork from being appointed to the Supreme Court but to soil his character irretrievably. “Robert Bork’s America,” quoth Kennedy,

"...is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit down at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of democracy."

A breathtaking congeries of falsehoods that, were they not protected by the prerogatives of senatorial privilege, would have taken a conspicuous place in the annals of malicious slander and character assassination.

Wednesday links

Pubic hair grooming injuries on the rise

Providence, RI's dancing traffic cop.

Gallery of Frost Flowers.  Related: How snowflakes get their shapes.

How snowflakes get their shapes



via BoingBoing.

The End of the University as We Know It

An argument I've been making to family and friends for a while now.  Once everything you can get in an on-campus college course, other than the credentialing, is available online, who's going to pay 10K plus per year for credentialing?

The college classroom is about to go virtual.

Resist or not, major change is coming. The live lecture will be replaced by streaming video. The administration of exams and exchange of coursework over the internet will become the norm. The push and pull of academic exchange will take place mainly in interactive online spaces, occupied by a new generation of tablet-toting, hyper-connected youth who already spend much of their lives online. Universities will extend their reach to students around the world, unbounded by geography or even by time zones. All of this will be on offer, too, at a fraction of the cost of a traditional college education. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Belmont Club has an excellent post on the debacle in Syria

Read the whole thing - a wistful look back at lost opportunities.

It was less than two years ago that the uprising in Syria presented the United States with a historic opportunity to weaken Iran and advance our own regional interests. Today, Syria looms as a potential strategic disaster, where America’s options for positively shaping outcomes have all but vanished, and frantic efforts at damage limitation are all that remain.

Even though the SS Hope and Change has been holed below the waterline and may in fact be doomed, the relevant question preoccupying the cruise directors is how long before the passengers notice.

Faux pas de coit

The French have a name for the problem caused by the girlfriend of MMA fighter Ray Elbe, who  got a little overexcited during sex and, how shall I put this, “misjudged her landing".

Senator Daniel Inouye, RIP

USA Today: "Democrat Daniel Inouye, the U.S. Senate's most senior member and a Medal of Honor recipient for his bravery during World War II, has died. He was 88. He died of respiratory complications and had been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center since earlier this month. His office said his last word was "Aloha," the traditional Hawaiian word for 'hello' and 'goodbye.'

Per Household Welfare Spending Exceeds Median Income


"Based on data from the Congressional Research Service, cumulative spending on means-tested federal welfare programs, if converted into cash, would equal $167.65 per day per household living below the poverty level," writes the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee. "By comparison, the median household income in 2011 of $50,054 equals $137.13 per day. Additionally, spending on federal welfare benefits, if converted into cash payments, equals enough to provide $30.60 per hour, 40 hours per week, to each household living below poverty. The median household hourly wage is $25.03. After accounting for federal taxes, the median hourly wage drops to between $21.50 and $23.45, depending on a household’s deductions and filing status. State and local taxes further reduce the median household’s hourly earnings. By contrast, welfare benefits are not taxed."

The universe of means-tested welfare spending refers to programs that provide low-income assistance in the form of direct or indirect financial support—such as food stamps, free housing, child care, etc.—and which the recipient does not pay into (in contrast to Medicare or Social Security).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Woman Convicted for Sex With Human Skeleton

According to the court, the 37-year-old handled the human bones "ignominiously", something which is prohibited by Sweden's laws against disturbing the peace of the dead.

Japan is Obsessed with Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas

Read the whole thing: In Japan, apparently fried chicken and Christmas have become synonymous.

Christmas isn’t a national holiday in Japan—only one percent of the Japanese population is estimated to be Christian—yet a bucket of “Christmas Chicken” (the next best thing to turkey—a meat you can’t find anywhere in Japan) is the go-to meal on the big day. And it’s all thanks to the insanely successful “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) marketing campaign in 1974.

When a group of foreigners couldn’t find turkey on Christmas day and opted for fried chicken instead, the company saw this as a prime commercial opportunity and launched its first Christmas meal that year: Chicken and wine for 834 yen($10)—pretty pricey for the mid-seventies. Today the christmas chicken dinner (which now boasts cake and champagne) goes for about 3,336 yen ($40).

And the people come in droves. Many order their boxes of ”finger lickin’” holiday cheer months in advance to avoid the lines—some as long as two hours.

Physics: How Strong Is a Hobbit?

At Wired, everything you wanted to know about the physics and math of Hobbit strength.

Related Tolkien physics:

How Does Gollum See in the Dark?

How Many Fish Does Gollum Need?

Cheese eating survival monkeys: eating Roquefort cheese helps you live longer

The secret to why the French live longer - Roquefort cheese.

Holiday Party Bingo Cards to Play With Your Dysfunctional Family

Here's one of them - see the rest here.  Via Laughing Squid.


Today is the 109th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk NC

For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. My disease has increased in severity and I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money if not my life. I have been trying to arrange my affairs in such a way that I can devote my entire time for a few months to experiment in this field.
- Wilbur Wright (letter to Octave Chanute, 13 May 1900)

SUCCESS FOUR FLIGHTS THURSDAY MORNING ALL AGAINST TWENTY ONE MILE WIND STARTING FROM LEVEL WITH ENGINE POWER ALONE SPEED THROUGH AIR THIRTY ONE MILES LONGEST 57 SECOND* INFORM PRESS HOME CHRISTMAS
- Orville Wright (telegram to Milton Wright, 17 December 1903)

There are no signposts in the sky to show a man has passed that way before. There are no channels marked. The flier breaks each second into uncharted seas.
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001) (North to the Orient, Ch. 1)

Per aspera ad astra.
- familiar Latin tag, often used as a motto

(Through adversity to the stars.)

Today is the 109th anniversary of mankind's first powered flight, achieved at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on 17 December 1903 by pioneer American aviators Wilbur and Orville Wright (1867-1912 and 1871-1948, respectively). The Wrights - Dayton, Ohio bicycle mechanics - become interested in aviation as an avocation and embarked on a systematic experimental program that eventually led to their extraordinary success - of which moveable wing parts and a lightweight engine were the key elements. However, the most striking aspect of this anniversary is how quickly the Wright Brothers' invention led to the air and space age. Man reached the moon only 66 years later - less than a human lifetime - and this remarkable acceleration of mankind's ability to achieve its most daunting goals is both exhilarating and frightening. Because satellites now do it so much better, French aviator and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry** (1900-1944) seems almost naive for remarking in 1939 that

"The aeroplane has revealed to us the true face of the earth."

* N.B. Apparently, the actual time duration of that first flight was 59 seconds.

** A renowned flier, who described his experiences in vivid prose, Saint-Exupéry lost his life flying for the Free French in World War II. Surprisingly, his most famous book is the children's story, Le Petite Prince ("The Little Prince").

The famous photograph of the Wrights' first successful flight:

My all-time favorite Heinlein quote: Specialization is for insects

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

~Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

Jonah Goldberg: Return to Federalism

If the game is rigged against you, continuing to play the game is the very definition of idiocy. You have to change the rules.

My own view is that conservatives should recommit themselves to federalism and states’ rights. The party of Lincoln should protect core civil rights, but beyond that, states and localities should be given as much freedom as they can handle. If California wants to become Sweden with better weather, let it. If Texas wants to become Singapore on the Rio Grande, great, go for it. And the same principle goes for cities and towns within those states.

Tim Scott named to replace Jim DeMint

Breaking: Haley to name Tim Scott to Senate seat

Heh


Samuel Adams quote of the day, in light of Obama's thinly disguised gun control speech

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace.  We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.

At Sandy Hook Memorial, Obama Showcases the Magical Thinking of Gun Controllers

Finally, a president who has the guts to come out against the murder of children. Not only that, but he is prepared to confront those who, for murky but clearly frivolous reasons, tolerate violence, oppose tragedy prevention, and shrink from saving innocent lives. Because "politics" cannot be allowed to obstruct the solutions that every decent, right-thinking person favors.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Glenn Reynolds: gun-free zones seem to be a magnet for mass shooters

Gun-free zones provide false sense of security.

Must read Mark Steyn: The Doctor Won’t See You Now

American health care is in a bureaucratic death grip.

Big Government American-style: Byzantine, legalistic, whimsical, coercive, heavy on the paperwork, and lacking the one consolation of statism — the great clarifying simplicity of universal mediocrity.

You have to see this Amazon page before they fix it

Check it out here, and read the reviews.  via Neatorama.


Religious identification in the UK: 176,632 identify themselves as Jedi Knights

Seventh most popular faith: The new figures reveal that the lightsabre-wielding disciples are only behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism in the popularity stakes.

Friday links

Best Science-Themed Holiday Gifts

Vintage Female Mug Shots

Geeky Gingerbread Art and Amazing Gingerbread Houses.

The Paintings of Young Adolf Hitler

Clip from the first episode of the Mickey Mouse Club, 1955

Clip from the first episode of the Mickey Mouse Club, 1955

The Nautical Roots of Popular Tattoos

Lots of information and illustrations at Collectors Weekly:

Contemporary tattooing in the West can be traced to the 15th century, when European pilgrims would mark themselves with reminders of locations they visited, as well as the names of their hometowns and spouses to help identify their bodies should they die during their travels. “The attractions of tattoos for itinerant populations are quite obvious,” says tattoo-art historian Matt Lodder. “They can’t be lost or stolen and they don’t encumber an already heavily burdened traveler, so it’s not a surprise that they became inextricably linked with sailors.”