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Friday, September 7, 2012

White House misses deadline for report on 'fiscal cliff' budget cuts

Under the terms of the Sequestration Transparency Act signed in August, President Obama was to tell Congress by Friday how the administration plans to implement the $109 billion in automatic cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act.

DNC and Granholm agree: Disabled kids’ Medicaid money is for Democratic candidates

At The Examiner: The SEIU is trying to amend the Michigan state constitution to protect a gift from former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, D-Mich., who helped the SEIU unionize in-home health care workers by deciding that the recipients of Medicaid funding count as public employees.

The public employee tag even applies to parents who accept Medicaid funding in order to help support their kids.

“We’re not even home health care workers. We’re just parents taking care of our kids,” as Robert Haynes, a retired police officer, put it to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Haynes and his wife lose money every month to the SEIU, which managed to incorporate them into a union without their realizing it, because Granholm decided to treat Medicaid recipients as public employees. Accordingly, the state government deducts money from their Medicaid check every month and sends it to the SEIU.

via Newsalert.

Are Chinese Banks Hiding “The Mother of All Debt Bombs?”

Read the whole thing at The Diplomat: Flooding the economy with trillions of yuan in new loans did accomplish the principal objective of the Chinese government — maintaining high economic growth in the midst of a global recession.  While Beijing earned plaudits around the world for its decisiveness and economic success, excessive loose credit was fueling a property bubble, funding the profligacy of state-owned enterprises, and underwriting ill-conceived infrastructure investments by local governments. 

via Instapundit.

And now, a dick in a box from the 1800s

via io9: Decades before Saturday Night Live immortalized genitalia ensconced in storage containers using the power of song, rascals of the Victorian era had long perfected this art. In 2008, Christie's auctioned off "a spring-loaded erotic carved wood novelty box, perhaps 19th century, 8 in. (20 cm.) long" for $1,214. Is this a bargain? That answer depends on your for propensity for knicker-twisting japes that would knock the starch out a Whig. (If anyone can dredge up a historical memoir detailing the life of a nineteenth-century dildo artisan, we will forever be in your debt.)
Semi-Related and Not Safe For Work: The low-budget carnal thrills of Japanese sex museums. (They're even hotter when they're abandoned!)

Biden, Obamas tell health care tall tales at convention

“Barack had to sit at the end of his mom’s hospital bed and watch her fight cancer and insurance companies at the same time,” Biden said.

The first lady added to the story, observing from the podium that “watching your mother die of something that could have been prevented — that’s a tough thing to deal with.”

“When my mother got cancer,” the president echoed during a video played inside the Time Warner Cable Arena before his entrance, ”she wasn’t a wealthy woman and it pretty much drained all her resources.”

But in 2004, the president told the Chicago Sun-Times that he wasn’t present during his mother’s final days at all.

The story Democratic convention-goers heard in Charlotte, N.C., however, was not intended as a tragic remembrance, but to convey the tragedy of suffering in a hospital without health insurance.

This narrative, too, is contradicted by history: Stanley Ann Dunham, the president’s late mother, did have health insurance to cover her uterine and ovarian cancer, through her job with Development Alternatives Inc. of Bethesda, Md.

“Ann’s compensation for her job in Jakarta had included health insurance, which covered most of the costs of her medical treatment,” according to Dunham’s biographer, New York Times journalist Janny Scott.

“Once she was back in Hawaii, the hospital billed her insurance company directly."

Putin More Than Doubles Russia’s Gold Reserves

Marketwatch:  Why is Putin stockpiling gold?

Unemployment Drops to 5.1 Percent— For Government Workers; Lowest Among All Industries

“The private sector is doing fine,” said Obama. “Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government, oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don't have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.”

Jonah Goldberg: The Campaign of Wrong Ideas vs. No Ideas

The Republicans seem to have become Dukakified.

DNC Attendees: Profits Should Be Banned

Posing as an anti-business crusader, Peter Schiff found a number of DNC delegates and attendees who support explicitly outlawing profitability.
More at Freedom Works.

Govt warns of 'zombie apocalypse'

Emergency planners were encouraged to use the threat of zombies — the flesh-hungry, walking dead — to encourage citizens to prepare for disasters.

Now you can make watermelons explode with your brain

Thanks to an EEG headset and a compressed air cannon, destroying things with your brain just got a whole lot easier.

The awful, awful August jobs report

James Pethokoukis at AEI has charts, comments and links.

The Labor Department also said that 41,000 fewer jobs were created in June and July than previously reported. The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised from 64,000 to 45,000, and the change for July was revised from 163,000 to 141,000. 

Friday links

A History of New York in 50 Objects.

Poorly translated Indian James Bond comics.

Wound Man, from a European surgical text circa 1400.

Mother shaves numbers into quadruplets hair so teachers can tell them apart.

Holy crap - this Supercut of Apocalypses on Film is awesome.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Axelrod and the DOJ bully Gallup

Gallup was not only annoying the White House with its numbers in the spring showing Mitt Romney ahead in the presidential race, it was also running employment data without the Obama Labor Department's convoluted seasonal adjustments.

Two weeks ago, along comes the Justice Department joining on a 2009 lawsuit against Gallup charging that the pollster overcharged the State Department, the U.S. Mint and other branches of the federal government.

GIF of the day

92-Year-Old WWII Vet Shoots, Kills Home Invader with Rifle

"I aimed right for his heart."

Jimmy Wales threatens to encrypt Wikipedia if UK passes snooping bill

Bill would force ISPs to retain data on users' online activities for one year.

The Science of Orgasms

via io9.

Palate cleanser: 8 yo boy wins $1K, donates it to 2 yo neighbor with leukemia

A local charity matched his gift.

Jonah Goldberg re this convention vs 2008: "he rode in on a unicorn but he's leaving on a donkey"

Will venue change have an impact on the president's speech?

Jonah Goldberg: The bogusness of "We're all in it together!"

What is it about liberals that makes them think all that stands between them and total Road Warrior–style anarchy is a bloated, inefficient, government in Washington?

Surprise! Steelworker Featured at DNC Didn’t Work for Bain - he was a union organizer

David Foster was never an employee of GST Steel’s Kansas City plant. He was employed by the United Steelworkers of America as their regional union director.

Via JWF.

CBO: Federal Healthcare Spending To Surpass All Discretionary Spending By 2016

Comments and links at Protein Wisdom.

Chance of rain for Obama's speech this evening: Zero

There is a 30% chance earlier in the day.  At 10pm, when the Great One was scheduled to ascend the stage, there is no chance of rain then or the rest of the night.

Thursday links

Dali's drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy

Dress made from 3,000 cow and yak nipples

The history and science of meringue

Slow Motion Video of Water Balloons Falling and Bouncing

17 Euphemisms for Sex From the 1800s

Gallery: Caves From Around The World

UK: shoot at 4 men breaking into your remote farmhouse, and guess who gets arrested?

'I'd have blown their heads off': Stepfather hits out at arrest of former model and her husband after intruder shooting at farmhouse.

Groups seek to overturn ruling allowing warrantless phone tracking

The Sixth Circuit majority ruled that the police had simply picked up GPS signals that had been "emitted" by Skinner's phone and used it to track his movements. But the civil liberties groups point out that this is an over-simplified description of how the signals were obtained. Cell phones do not routinely emit location data derived from GPS measurements; they do so only when their phone companies remotely activate a phone's tracking capabilities. This fact, the civil liberties groups argue, should subject the tracking to a higher level of scrutiny.

The real-life chemistry teacher who showed Breaking Bad how to make meth.

Maven of Meth: The article also notes that the TV show "deliberately put in faulty steps" so that home viewers can't actually create their own meth with those techniques.

via GeekPress.

Dave Barry has 2 reports (so far) on the DNC convention

Read more here:
Taking Charlotte by storm as the DNC kicks off:

There is an innocent explanation for how I wound up on the floor of a bar with the governor of Montana. I was engaging in journalism.

Read more here:

The DJ has the Democrats spinning:

Bill was preceded by a parade of speakers whose remarks stressed the big recurring theme of this convention, which is that Barack Obama and the Democrats want to move America forward into the future by fixing this pesky inherited economy with a specific and practical plan to be revealed at a later date, so that every American — be it a woman, or a minority group, or a person of gender — will have an equal opportunity to have the American dream that Americans deserve here in America; as opposed to Mitt Romney and the Republicans, who want to move the nation backward in a giant Republican time machine to 1959, when wealthy fat-cat Republicans roamed the land with impunity, smoking cigars and beating the poor with golf clubs.

Read more here:

Excellent cartoon: Raining on the charade

Private security contractors process 65% more passengers, three times better at finding contraband than TSA, cost less.

A vivid example of the stark difference between Big Government and free markets can be seen in–of all places–the Transportation Security Administration.

Ben & Jerry's sues over X-rated 'Ben & Cherry's' DVDs

It identified some of the X-rated names similar to its own as "Boston Cream Thigh," `'New York Fat & Chunky" and "Peanut Butter D-Cup."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Yvette Clarke, Congresswoman, Says Slavery Still Around In 1898 During 'Colbert Report' Interview

Video here.

During Stephen Colbert's "Better Know A District" segment, the comedian-cum-political commentator interviewed U.S. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, who represents New York's 11th District. The results were both humorous and painfully awkward, as the Democratic politician took a hypothetical trip back in time with Colbert, only to claim slavery would still have existed in New York in 1898.

"If you could get in a time machine and go back to 1898, what would you say to those Brooklynites?" Colbert asked in the segment.

"I would say to them, 'Set me free,'" Clarke responded.

Gamely pressing on, Colbert inquired from what would the Congresswoman wish to be free from.

"Slavery," Clarke replied.

"Slavery. Really? I didn’t realize there was slavery in Brooklyn in 1898," Colbert said, perhaps in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to give the native Brooklyner a do-over.

"I’m pretty sure there was," Clarke responded.

"It sounds like a horrible part of the United States that kept slavery going until 1898," Colbert commented, struggling to keep a straight face.

"Who would be enslaving you in 1898 in New York?" Colbert pressed.

According to Clarke, none other than the Dutch.

The Legal Battle Between Good Humor and the Popsicle Corporation

Some interesting history.

Marginal Revolution is doing an online course in Development Economics

Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, who blog at Marginal Revolution, are authors and economists at George Mason University's (my alma mater!) highly regarded Mercatus Center.

The first course from Marginal Revolution University is Development Economics.  Development Economics will cover the sources of economic growth including geography, education, finance, and institutions.

More information here:

Introducing MRUniversity (spread the word)

and here:

MRU’s First Course: Development Economics

Great Moments in Government Regulation

At Carpe Diem: How the California Department of Labor forces employers to force employees to take an unpaid 30-minute lunch,  even when employees want to work through lunch and get paid and employers agree.

African Naked Mole Rat May Hold The Key To The Fountain Of Youth

Its longevity hints at some of the fundamental causes of ageing.

Key Solyndra figures get red carpet treatment at Democratic convention

Details, links, comments and a good infographic at HotAir.

Why the 1990s boom happened despite the Clinton tax hikes

James Pethokoukis at AEI has some good points.

Mark Steyn: Going Ape

How Michael Mann’s lawsuit is shaping up.

1894 Autobiography by Jesus of Nazareth, as dictated to a spiritualist

Here's the "read online" versionThis main page has other (perhaps clearer) reading options.

Via Weird Universe.

Why, exactly, is the Department of Justice regulating defibrillator choices?

This is rather chilling: With this new secretive rule-making approach, doctors are rendered powerless to adapt their practice medicine to its latest state of the art without later fear of retribution from the long arm of the law.

via Instapundit.

How Deep Is the Shadow Economy?

Interesting article at Freakonomics.

Your cellphone is a tracking device that lets you make calls

Just in case you had any doubts about how much of a security risk your mobile phone presents...

Secret account in mission-critical router opens power plants to tampering

At ArsTechnica: The line of mission-critical routers manufactured by Fremont, California-based GarrettCom contains an undocumented account with a default password that gives unprivileged users access to advanced options and features.

Jonah Goldberg: The Question Nobody Wants to Answer

The problem is the idea that "the president is the project manager for a team of technicians who create economic prosperity."

They waved around charts and graphs “proving” they were right, like self-declared messiahs insisting they are to be followed because the prophecies they wrote themselves say so.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why America is much worse off that it was four years ago

Excellent post by James Pethokoukis at AEI.

Photo gallery: Inside the 1960 Democratic convention

The 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles was crammed with the political superstars of the day — John F. Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson — as well as key staff members like Andrew Hatcher. Garry Winogrand took pictures of all of them, but his primary interest was elsewhere. ‘‘He photographed the life, the back corners, the audience,’’ says Leo Rubinfien, a photographer who is curating a retrospective of Winogrand’s work opening at SFMOMA next year. ‘‘The people watching the parade, not the parade — that was how he worked.’’

String Theory Song: A Catchy Rap to Explain the Physics of Superstrings

Comments and links at Neatorama.

Not The Onion: Canadian govt spends over $800K to stop exploding sausages

I have never heard of a sausage-related injury. Not one.

Fed Judge Orders MA to Provide Taxpayer-Funded Sex Change for Transgendered Murderer

A medical necessity?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Moody's Downgrades European Union To Outlook Negative

Moody's believes that it is reasonable to assume that the EU's creditworthiness should move in line with the creditworthiness of its strongest key member states considering  the significant linkages between member states and the EU, and the likelihood that the large Aaa-rated member states would likely not  prioritize their commitment to backstop the EU debt obligations over servicing their own debt obligations.

Burning Man 2012 Videos

Laughing Squid has videos, links and comments.

RIP "Green Mile" star Michael Clarke Duncan - dead at age 54

He never fully recovered from the myocardial infarction he suffered on July 13.

At IMAO: President Obama Marks Labor Day

“This day, Labor Day, is a day of remembrance of the many jobs that once made this country so great.” said the President. “For without them, we would not have had the peace and prosperity that we so enjoyed before. It is important on a day like this, a national holiday, to remember those many jobs that were saved or created, shovel ready or not so ready, public union or private union, green or kind of green, and all the rest that keep at least some of America working and paying taxes to me.”

Denver Public Schools pilot program to push ‘social action,’ ‘social justice’

“Half of the kids in DPS aren’t even reading at grade level, yet the school district wants to make them into little social activists.”

Spengler: Groundhog Day Almost Over For Europe?

The Euro crisis has been going on forever, but the end of “forever” may be coming into sight.

Mideast: Obama has presided over a collapse of alliances which sustained America’s position in the region for 60 years

David Goldman (Spengler): Egypt Is an Adversary, Not a Neutral

1934 article: Perfected Television Now Ready for the Public

Distant places, noted stars of the stage, industry at work, drama, thrills, all living on a screen in your radio set!

Dems bring in crowds by the busload to fill stadium for Obama speech

College students from across North Carolina will arrive in Charlotte by the busload. Same with members of predominantly black churches in neighboring South Carolina.

Their goal: help fill a 74,000-seat outdoor stadium to capacity when President Obama accepts the Democratic nomination Thursday night.

Dems To Use Trick Photography to Fill Convention Hall?

It looks as though the Democrats intend to show an artificial sea of faces in order to make the convention hall look a whole lot fuller than it might be.

This year's Hugo (sci-fi) awards

Were announced last night.

Are Obese Kids Victims of Child Abuse?

Nothing illustrates better than child abuse the tendency of ill-defined but nevertheless meaningful concepts to spread beyond their original signification to include more and more phenomena.

Anwar al-Awlaki’s Long-Lost U.S. Speech from September 1, 2001

Video, links and comments at PJM.

Who is Funding the Purchase of the $35 Million Beachfront Hawaiian Estate for Obamas to Move into Come January 2013?

Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Great moments in government regulation, 1,000s of low-level bank employees have been fired due to new FDIC rules

Professor Mark Perry at Carpe Diem links to this article at USA Today:

68-year-old Vietnam veteran is still too risky for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, in Des Moines, Iowa, which fired him on July 12 from his $29,795-a-year job as a customer service representative.
Egger's crime? Putting a cardboard cutout of a dime in a washing machine in nearby Carlisle, Iowa, on Feb. 2, 1963.
The tougher standards are meant to weed out executives and mid-level bank employees guilty of transactional crimes, like identity fraud or mortgage fraud, but they are being applied across-the-board thanks to $1 million a day fines for noncompliance.
My previous post about his story:  Wells Fargo Fires Iowa Worker for Minor 1963 Crime

Odd Jobs: Deer Urine Farmer

“Hey, it ain’t rocket science,” he laughs. “You put a buck in there. When he starts riding the doe, and she lets him, they’re in heat. When they’re done, you collect their urine. That’s our whole business model.”

Monday links

Really Terrible 19th-Century Beauty Tips. Also, Wildly Dangerous Home Remedies From 100 Years Ago.

Excellent job title: Shepherd of the Royal Anus.

85-Year-Old Vietnamese Man Hasn’t Cut His Hair in 70 Years.

When old school video games invade...

Embryonic animal photos: Womb with a View.

11 Incredible Navigable Aqueducts.

Daily Caller: Obama-led 1995 lawsuit forcing subprime lending

The suit asserted that Citibank had denied his clients mortgages, an outcome they believed was related to their race.

The case was settled out of court with Citibank agreeing to change its standards for lending in urban areas and to applicants who would not otherwise qualify.

Related articled in the same series at DC:

With landmark lawsuit, Barack Obama pushed banks to give subprime loans to Chicago’s African-Americans

Obama's African-American clients got coupons, not cash

Obama’s Citibank plaintiffs hit hard when housing bubble burst

'Crime in the area has increased. Some people don't want to bother with living in the neighborhood'

And watch this video on subprime mortgages.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Truly excellent beer ad

Hal David RIP: Mark Steyn has comments

The Look of Love is saying so much more...

Deaf man hears music for the first time

Austin Chapman is profoundly deaf, but with new hi-tech hearing aids he recently received, he was able to hear music for the first time in his 23-year life.

Union negotiator: NFL referees won't start season

No more talks planned

5 Stupid Government Interventions in Sports

Whatever you think of Armstrong's guilt or innocence — and whether he's received due process or is getting screwed — hispredicament underscores how government-funded agencies intervene insports.

Why Nothing Is Shovel Ready Anymore: Worst Practices Seminar

American taxpayers will shell out many times what their counterparts in developed cities in Europe and Asia would pay. American transit projects give contractors relatively few incentives to finish quickly or cheaply... But this is only a part of the price tag. Costs which the article does not talk about are those created by the need to appease the NIMBY and environmental lobbies.

8th Annual Pregnant Bikini Contest

Extremely pregnant women in bikinis.  That's it.  Video and more pictures here.

ICE Chief of Staff, Janet Napolitano's buddy, resigns after allegations of lewd behavior and sexual harassment of male employees

Before joining ICE in January 2009, Barr worked under Napolitano while she was governor of Arizona, serving as director of legislative affairs. 

Are 60% of Milwaukee’s black voters from 2008 missing?

Agenda flogging, not journalism - the numbers are ridiculous.

Thieves hit Canadian strategic reserve of maple syrup

In other news, Canada has a strategic reserve of maple syrup.

Toddler's karaoke tantrum ends in bloodbath

A Chinese toddler's refusal to give up the microphone during a family karaoke evening started a quarrel that left two men hacked to death with a meat cleaver.

Look who parks their cash at Bain

“The scrutiny generated by a heated election year matters less than the performance the portfolio generates to the fund,” California State Teachers’ Retirement System spokesman Ricardo Duran said in the Aug. 12 Boston Globe. CalSTRS has pumped some $1.25 billion into Bain. 

...the following funds have entrusted some $1.56 billion to Bain:

* Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund ($2.2 million)
* Indiana Public Retirement System ($39.3 million)
* Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System ($177.1 million)
* The Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension System ($19.5 million)
* Maryland State Retirement and Pension System ($117.5 million)
* Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada ($20.3 million)
* State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio ($767.3 million)
* Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System ($231.5 million)
* Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island ($25 million)
* San Diego County Employees Retirement Association ($23.5 million)
* Teacher Retirement System of Texas ($122.5 million)
* Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System ($15 million)

via Instapundit.

Question this election: can you have free market economics and a socialist welfare system at the same time?

The question lies at the heart of the economic crisis from which the West seems unable to recover. It is so profoundly threatening to the governing consensus of Britain and Europe as to be virtually unutterable.

The magic formula in which the wealth produced by the market economy is redistributed by the state – from those who produce it to those whom the government believes deserve it – has gone bust. The crash of 2008 exposed a devastating truth that went much deeper than the discovery of a generation of delinquent bankers, or a transitory property bubble. It has become apparent to anyone with a grip on economic reality that free markets simply cannot produce enough wealth to support the sort of universal entitlement programmes which the populations of democratic countries have been led to expect. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Excellent post: The Real Meaning of Free-Range Kids

At The Agitator.

Western Blue Jays Hold a Funeral for Dead Bird

When western scrub jays encounter a dead bird, they call out to one another and stop foraging.

The jays then often fly down to the dead body and gather around it, scientists have discovered.

PSA: Jehovah's Witnesses Tell Deaf People To Stop Masturbating

In sign language, of course.

Russian Troops Welcomed Into NORAD

Wired's Danger Room has information and links.

Pirate Bay founder arrested in Cambodia

Details at DVICE: Gottfrid Svartholm is known for two things. The first is founding The Pirate Bay, one of the most prominent torrent sites out there. The second is fleeing Switzerland and failing to serve a twelve-month sentence received for the first thing he's known for. Thursday, Svartholm was arrested in Cambodia.

"Cannibal! The Musical," Matt and Trey's musical before "Book of Mormon"

Trailer and full length film via Troma is below.

Cannibal! The Musical (1993), is an awesomely awful film about the pioneering raw foodist Alferd Packer, directed by (and starring) Trey Parker, also starring Matt Stone.

"Cannibal" is the true story of the only person convicted of cannibalism in America -- Alferd Packer. The sole survivor of an ill-fated trip to the Colorado Territory, he tells his side of the harrowing tale to news reporter Polly Prye as he awaits his execution. And his story goes like this: While searching for gold and love in the Colorado Territory, he and his companions lost their way and resorted to unthinkable horrors, including toe-tapping songs! Packer and his five wacky mining buddies sing and dance their ways into your heart...and then take a bite out of it! Cannibal! The Musical is Oklahoma meets Bloodsucking Freaks. Brought to you by the Troma Team and Trey Parker -- the Rogers and Hammerstein of Horror!

Amazon has DVDs from Troma, if you prefer. Below, watch it in entirety via YouTube. There's a Troma promo that runs up to about 2 minutes 20 seconds in.  via BoingBoing, which has additional comments and links.

Feds end probe of 'America's toughest sheriff' Joe Arpaio; no charges

Feds should have to pay legal fees on this.

Highlights of Barack & Michelle interview with Parade Magazine

How exciting!

Excellent post on Gender Pay Discrimination

The reason economists have trouble with the idea of rampant pay discrimination is that it defies common sense. Let's say I own a company and I am employing only men. Is it really true that I could fire all the men, replace them with women and lower my cost of labor by 23%? If I could do that why wouldn't I? If I were stupid enough not to do it, wouldn't a competitor of mine do it and drive me out of business?

via Professor Mark Perry at Carpe Diem.

Obama speech to soldiers met with silence

The troops’ silence continued through several obvious applause-lines.

Must read: The Green War on the Poor

At NRO, crunching the numbers:  The $2.78 trillion green tax would be spread nearly evenly on all Americans, not as a fixed “flat tax” percentage of income, but as a fixed cost regardless of income.

Divided evenly among 300 million Americans, the green tax works out to a burden of $9,270 imposed on every man, woman, and child. While this would be a pittance for the most affluent Americans, it would take away 40 percent of the total income of a family of four supported by two wage earners making the average U.S. salary of $45,000 each, and it would be a virtually fatal burden for the poor.