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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Excellent: The Hater’s Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog

Deadspin: When a place like Williams-Sonoma gets your credit card and thus your address, you are on the mailing list for life. Every holiday season, my mail slot gets bukkake'd with monstrous catalogs packed with shit I would never, ever buy, and the W-S catalog stands out among them.

The people at W-S aren't the least bit self-conscious about getting you to pay $35 for mailed gravy. So I thought I would go through this holiday season's catalog, which has spent a solid week atop my shitter, and point out some of the more ridiculous items. Because there are people out there who buy this shit. The question is ... who? And why? Let's try to figure that out now.

Improvised footballs from Africa

Photographer Jessica Hilltout traveled Africa documenting homemade footballs/soccer balls improvised across the continent. via BoingBoing.

Incredible 5 year old piano prodigy

Lance Armstrong Cheated to Win. Why is that Wrong?

At Reason, A Defense of Performance-Enhancing Drugs.

Peter Pan and Superman fined after scuffle while trying to grope nun

HEARD the one about Peter Pan, Superman and the nun?

It was no joke for friends Christopher Pantony and Jamie Reynolds who landed up in court after a fancy dress argument.

Gun Store Owner to Obama Voters: You Are Not Welcome

via GatewayPundit, FoxNews has this:

The Southwest Shooting Authority is a family-owned, family-run business that Reynolds opened in 2004. He told Fox News that he’s absolutely serious about the new policy.

“I’m a small business owner,” he said. “If you are dumb enough to vote for Obama again – after four years of this — I don’t think you are responsible enough to own a firearm. I don’t care who it makes mad.”

Reynolds acknowledged that folks coming into his store probably didn’t vote for Obama anyway, but he’s still making a statement. He said he’s concerned about how President Obama’s policies could impact his small business.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Homemade Twinkie recipe

Golden “Twinkie” Cake: (Or use a box mix)

2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray molds/pan with non-stick spray.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Next, beat in the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute in between each addition. Reduce the mixer speed and add flour mixture alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the vanilla and mix until the batter just comes together. Over mixing with make your cake chewy. Makes 12 cakes.

Spray your Twinkie canoes and bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until the cakes are just a light golden color and a tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Cream Filling

¼ cup shortening (I prefer Crisco brand)
¼ cup margarine
1 cup sifted powdered or 10x sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Beat together the shortening and margarine until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar in a little at a time and beat on high until peaks form. Add vanilla and beat for one minute. Place in prepared icing tubes for piping into cakes.

To fill the cakes, insert the icing tip – preferably a large star tip – into three points along the flat-side of the cake, about 1/8 of an inch deep. Squeeze lightly until you see the filling begin to ooze out.

The Hostess Liquidation: A Curious Cast Of Characters As The Twinkie Tumbles

Well worth a read, ZeroHedge has an enormous amount of information on the liquidation and the groups/individuals/companies/unions involved.

And this: Sadly, in many ways Hostess is now indicative of that just as insolvent larger corporation, the USA.

Bertrand Russell and (Jesuit priest) F.C. Copleston Debate the Existence of God on BBC radio, 1948



OpenCulture.com has lengthy quotes and discussion and further links.

The audio version of the debate above is abridged. To read a transcript of the entire debate, click here to open the text in a new window.

Mark Steyn: Tribal America

To an immigrant such as myself (not the undocumented kind, but documented up to the hilt, alas), one of the most striking features of election-night analysis was the lightly worn racial obsession. On Fox News, Democrat Kirsten Powers argued that Republicans needed to deal with the reality that America is becoming what she called a “brown country.” Her fellow Democrat Bob Beckel observed on several occasions that if the share of the “white vote” was held down below 73 percent Romney would lose. In the end, it was 72 percent and he did. Beckel’s assertion — that if you knew the ethnic composition of the electorate you also knew the result — turned out to be correct.

This is what less enlightened societies call tribalism.

First formal study of Albert Einstein's brain




The first formal study to take a look at the entire cerebral cortex of Albert Einstein's brain has revealed some interesting clues about the scientist's extraordinary cognitive abilities. Florida State University researchers examined 14 recently rediscovered photographs and compared them to 85 "normal" human brains — and not surprisingly, they noticed some marked differences.

Soon after Einstein's death in 1955, his brain was removed and photographed from multiple and unconventional angles. It was also sectioned into 240 blocks from which many slides were created.

Unfortunately, however, many of these blocks and slides were lost from public sight for over half a century. But their recent rediscovery has allowed neuroscientists to take a closer look, and to analyze them in consideration of the latest functional imaging technologies.

What the researchers found was that Einstein's brain had some definite morphological differences. While the overall size and asymmetrical shape of his brain was normal, the prefrontal, somatosensory, primary motor, parietal, temporal and occipital cortices were "extraordinary," in the words of the researchers.

The neuroscientists, a team led by Dean Falk, suspect that these anomalies may have endowed Einstein with his visuospatial and mathematical abilities. It may also explain his uncanny predilection for thought experiments.

Along with Falk, the study was conducted by Frederick E. Lepore of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Adrianne Noe, director of the National Museum of Health and Medicine. The entire study can be found at the journal, Brain.  via io9.

Everything you need to know to catch tonight’s Leonid meteor shower

Is available or linked to at io9.

Unfortunately, I think Jonah Goldberg's right about this: Compassionate Conservatism Redux

Read the whole thing:

Compassionate conservatism always struck me as a philosophical surrender to liberal assumptions about the role of the government in our lives. A hallmark of Great Society liberalism is the idea that an individual’s worth as a human being is correlated to his support for massive expansions of the entitlement state. Conservatives are not uncompassionate. (Indeed, the data show that conservatives are more charitable with their own money and more generous with their time than liberals are.) But, barring something like a natural disaster, they believe that government is not the best and certainly not the first resort for acting on one’s compassion.

I still believe all of that, probably even more than I did when Bush was in office.

But, as a political matter, it has become clear that he was on to something important.

Petitioning the Obama administration to... Nationalize the Twinkie industry

Support the union bakers - Sign here!

Previous post: Time to stock up on Twinkies.  Union workers may permanently kill off the iconic Twinkie. Hostess Brands, Inc., the company that makes Twinkies, announced on Wednesday that it will ask a bankruptcy judge to allow it to shut down and sell off its assets as soon as November 20, if union workers do not end their strike by Thursday.

How to revive your stagnant brand: Caffeinated Cracker Jacks for adults

More links and info at LaughingSquid.

Friday links

How Long Would It Take to Fall Through the Earth?

Incredible Animal Portraits: More Than Human.

Video: 9 year old girl football star.

Read My Rings: The Oldest Living Tree Tells All.

11 Weirdly Spelled Words—And How They Got That Way.

Word of the year from the Oxford English Dictionary: 'Omnishambles'.

Yesterday was the birthday of the man who discovered Uranus

It never gets old, does it?

5 Historical Manias That Gripped Societies, Then Disappeared

Read the whole thing at Mental Floss.

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” Charles Mackay may have written those words in 1841 in his social science classic, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, but what he has to say about mass manias and the behavior of crowds remains absolutely relevant today—as anyone who’s ever gone to a midnight sale of one of the Twilight books could tell you.

Mob mentality also goes some of the way—but not all the way—in explaining these real manias and outbreaks of strange behavior that came on disturbingly fast and disappeared just as rapidly. (Please note, Bieber Fever is not on the list.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What free-market medicine looks like



Links and discussion at HotAir.

Susan Rice's miserable record at the UN


To many journalists, Rice’s misleading interviews on the five Sunday Shows the weekend after the 9/11/12 terrorist attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were one of the first times they had heard from her. To veteran foreign policy observers, Rice’s shameful performance that Sunday was one of many blunders over the last four years.

Rice’s diplomatic failures and silence in the face of outrageous UN antics have given the United States pathetic representation among the 193 members of the world body. UN members, not surprisingly, prefer a weak opponent. Rice is therefore popular with her colleagues. It may explain why she ignored Syria’s growing problems for months.

Speaking out and challenging the status quo is seldom cheered at the UN. Her slow and timid response left the United States at the mercy of Russia and China, who ultimately vetoed a watered down resolution an unprecedented three times.

1991 news segment: parents upset over Nintendo



via Have you seen this?

How to Explain the Elmo Sex Scandal to Your Kids: an Illustrated Guide Starring Justin Bieber and Elmo

NSFW: The Tale of Elmo and His Adult Male Friend


Slow motion egg destruction

Video: 9 Year old girl football star



via BitsandPieces

WSJ: Petraeus pushed out after defending CIA over Benghazi?

Ed Morrissey has comments and links at Hot Air:

A few days ago, one report on l’affaire Petraeus had CIA Director David Petraeus thinking that he would survive the exposure of an extramarital sexual relationship with his biographer Paula Broadwell. That idea received a round of mirthful derision, but a new report about Petraeus’ last days at the CIA suggests that his resignation had a lot less to do with sexual and e-mail indiscretions than first thought, too. The Wall Street Journal’s look at the fall of Petraeus focuses on the singular and noteworthy CIA timeline issued to defend itself in the debate over the terrorist attack in Benghazi, and suggests that the Obama administration wanted Petraeus out because of it.

Field Marshall Erwin Rommel was born 121 years ago today

In a man to man fight, the winner is he who has one more round in his magazine.
- Field Marshall Erwin Rommel (Infanterie greift an ("Infantry Attacks," 1937))

Courage which goes against military expediency is stupidity, or, if it is insisted upon by a commander, irresponsibility.
- Rommel (letter, 9 November 1942)

Self-restraint, even chivalry... distinguished the combatants on both sides throughout the North Africa campaign... The leading exemplar of this code was Rommel himself. When orders from Hitler mandated the execution of captured British commandos, Rommel tossed the document in the trash. He insisted that the Allied prisoners receive the same rations he was given. He even wrote a book about the conflict called Krieg ohne Hass ("War Without Hate"). Memoirs of the North Africa campaign attest that, fierce and brutal as much of the fighting was, relations between individual enemies retained a quality of forbearance that seems, today, almost impossible to imagine.
- Steven Pressfield (b. 1943) (Killing Rommel, 2009)

He was a splendid military gambler, dominating the problems of supply and scornful of opposition ... His ardor and daring inflicted grievous disasters upon us, but he deserves the salute which I made him - and not without some reproaches from the public - in the House of Commons in January 1942, when I said of him, "We have a very daring and skillful opponent against us, and, may I say across the havoc of war, a great general." He also deserves our respect because, although a loyal German soldier, he came to hate Hitler and all his works, and took part in the conspiracy to rescue Germany by displacing the maniac and tyrant. For this, he paid the forfeit of his life. In the somber wars of modern democracy, chivalry finds no place ... Still, I do not regret or retract the tribute I paid to Rommel, unfashionable though it was judged.
- Winston Churchill (1874-1965) (The Second World War, Vol. 3, The Grand Alliance)

Today is the 121st anniversary of the birth of legendary German general Field Marshall Erwin (Johannes Eugen) Rommel (1891-1944), who became known as Der Wüstenfuchs ("the Desert Fox") as commander of the Afrika Korps in World War II. Born in Württemberg the son of a schoolmaster, Rommel joined the Imperial German Army in 1910 and served in France, Italy, and Romania during World War I, receiving the highest decorations for bravery. Between the wars, he rose steadily in the army hierarchy, becoming well known as a military educator and writer of textbooks during the early Nazi years. At the time World War II began, he was serving as the commander of Hitler's headquarters troops but was assigned command of a panzer division during the invasion of France and established a reputation for aggressive and innovative leadership. In early 1941, after Italy's failed attempt to invade Egypt from Libya, Hitler sent him to retrieve the deteriorating situation as head of the Afrika Korps, and in a series of see-saw battles which only ended in March 1943, he alternately threatened Egypt and fought a series of defensive actions while retreating toward Tunisia. In November 1943, Rommel was placed in charge of defending the French coast against the anticipated Allied invasion, and he held that command until after D-day (4 June 1944). Increasingly disillusioned with Nazism, Rommel became peripherally involved with the 20 July 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler, and when his connection was discovered, he was forced to commit suicide in October 1944, although for political reasons his death was attributed to war wounds and he was given a hero's funeral. The real cause of his death did not emerge until after Germany's defeat. He once remarked,

"Mortal danger is an effective antidote for fixed ideas.")

Erwin Rommel:

Taken from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email. If you'd like to be added to his list, leave your email address in the comments.

Jonah Goldberg: The Right Isn’t Waving a White Flag

The conservative Götterdämmerung is finally here. “Like dazed survivors in a ravaged city, America’s conservatives are wailing and beating their collective breasts,” opines The Economist’s “Lexington” columnist. “A leading conservative thinker,” asked by The Economist to “list today’s conservative ideas, laughs bitterly and replies, ‘Are there any?’”

Reaganite former congressman Vin Weber (R., Minn.) laments in the conservative journal Policy Review, “I have never been so concerned about the future of conservative ideas.”

A Washington Post columnist announced that “the long descent of the Republican Party into irrelevance, defeat, and perhaps eventual disappearance” has finally begun. William Kristol of The Weekly Standard concludes that the “conservative movement, which accomplished great things over the past quarter-century, is finished.” His magazine has dedicated an entire issue to the “conservative crack-up.”

These epitaphs are all from yesteryear. The bits from The Economist and Weber were published in 1992. Kristol delivered his death sentence after various conservatives lost the New Hampshire primary in 2000 (the “crack-up” issue was in 1997). And the funereal Washington Post columnist? That was the late Robert Novak in 1976, four years before Ronald Reagan’s 1980 triumph.

And that’s just from the right. Since the conservative movement was born, liberals have been insisting it was dead.

Time to stock up on Twinkies

Union workers may permanently kill off the iconic Twinkie. Hostess Brands, Inc., the company that makes Twinkies, announced on Wednesday that it will ask a bankruptcy judge to allow it to shut down and sell off its assets as soon as November 20, if union workers do not end their strike by Thursday.

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, whose members make up nearly a third of the company's workforce, has been on strike at plants across the country protesting "pay cuts that Hostess" won the right to impose in bankruptcy court.

Hostess Chief Executive Gregory Rayburn said the company would have to fire most of its workers on November 20 if union workers do not come back to work by 5 p.m. EST on Thursday and the judge allows the Hostess to liquidate its assets.

"We simply do not have the financial resources to survive an ongoing national strike," Rayburn said.

The strike already forced Hostess to close three of its 36 bakeries earlier this week, which led to the 627 workers being laid off. Hostess did, however, reach an agreement with the Teamsters, which is its largest union.

Hostess filed for bankruptcy protection on January 11, and the company had nearly $860 million in debt at the time.

Greg Hesse, a bankruptcy attorney, said union workers were striking because they think an unnamed buyer would purchase the company, but a judge said there were no imminent buyers.

"It would be hard to imagine a world without Twinkies," Hesse said.

via Breitbart.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Beware: ObamaCare’s now reality (and will cost employers $1.79/hr per FT employee)

Read the whole thing:

President Obama’s re-election and Democratic gains in the US Senate end any possibility of repealing the Obama health law. It will roll out as written, imposing major changes soon on you and your family. If you are uninsured because you can’t afford it, help may be on the way. But if you are one of the 250 million Americans with coverage, there are big problems ahead.

If you get your health insurance through a job, you might lose it as of Jan. 1, 2014. That’s when the new “employer mandate” kicks in, requiring employers with 50 or more full-time workers to provide the government-designed health plan or pay a fine. The government plan is so expensive, it adds $1.79 per hour to the cost of a full-time employee. That’s incidental if you're hiring neurosurgeons but a hefty increase for hiring busboys and sales clerks.

Currently, employers in retail and fast-food industries pay less than half that to cover their workers.To avoid thecostly mandate,some employers will push workers into part-time status. Other employers will opt for the fine. Either way, workers lose their on-the-job coverage.

Worse, they risk losing their jobs.Even the fine adds 98 cents an hour to the cost of labor, enough to make some employers cut back on their workforce.

5 Ways To Protect Yourself Against Obamacare

Dr. Paul Hsieh - read the whole thing at Forbes:

Now that President Obama has won re-election, repeal of the ObamaCare health law is no longer realistic. Although some state governors continue to resist and there are some still-pending legal challenges, prudent Americans should prepare for the law being eventually implemented in full.

ObamaCare will worsen the current physician shortage. The law will also drive physicians to become hospital employees or to join large Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), where their treatment decisions will be monitored with mandatory electronic medical records. Government and private insurers will increasingly link payments to adherence to “comparative effectiveness” practice guidelines. Physicians will face significant conflicts-of-interest when their patients might benefit from treatments outside the guidelines, but the physician risks nonpayment (or losing his ACO contract) as a result.

So how can ordinary Americans best protect themselves under ObamaCare? Here are 5 practical recommendations.

How men and women choose shampoo

via HumorTrain.

Wednesday links

The Fascinating History Of The Garbage Truck.

Why Do Trees Topple in a Storm?

Aaron Copland was born 112 years ago today.

Study from the Department of the Blindingly Obvious: People Who Live Close To Bars Drink More Heavily.

How (and why) animals change color with the seasons.

Athlete-Powered Rube Goldberg Machine.

Aaron Copland was born 112 years ago today

If a young man at the age of twenty-three can write a symphony like that, in five years he will be ready to commit murder.
- Walter Damrosch (1862-1950) (after conducting Aaron Copland's Symphony for Organ and Orchestra in 1923)

The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking, "Is there meaning in music?" My answer to that would be, "Yes." And "Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?" My answer to that would be, No."
- Aaron Copland (What to Listen For in Music)

Music that is born complex is not inherently better or worse than music that is born simple.
- Copland (quoted in Jacobson, Reverberations)

I object to background music no matter how good it is. Composers want people to listen to their music, they don't want them doing something else while their music is on.  I'd like to get the guy who sold all those big businessmen the idea of putting music in the elevators, for he was really clever. What on earth good does it do anybody to hear those four or eight bars while going up a few flights?
- Copland (quoted in Classic Essays on Twentieth-Century Music)

Today is the 112th anniversary of the birth of the most popular American composer of the 20th century, Aaron Copland (1900-1990). Born in Brooklyn, Copland was the first American composition student accepted by the legendary Nadia Boulanger in Paris (1921-1924)and then found a strong supporter in Serge Koussevitzky, conductor of the Boston Symphony during that era. At first, Copland incorporated a strong jazz element in his music, but abandoned that in the early 1930s for a consciously American "folk" idiom. His most popular works, the ballets Billy the Kid (1938), Rodeo (1942), the sublime Appalachian Spring (1942), and his 3rd symphony (1946) - for my money, the best symphony written by an American composer - all reflect that orientation. Subsequently, Copland's turn to modernism was less successful, but some of his smaller-scale works, such as his Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson (1950) and Old American Songs (1955) will probably survive.

Opining what many of us have long believed, Copland once remarked, "The melody is generally what the piece is about."

The "Simple Gifts" section of Copland's Appalachian Spring:



And here's Thomas Hampson singing the version in Old American Songs:



Aaron Copland:

Taken from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email. If you'd like to be added to his list, leave your email address in the comments.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

When You're Visited By A Copy Of Yourself, Stay Calm

You know Carl Linnaeus, right? The great Swedish naturalist who categorized plants and animals in the 1750s? He was a singular figure in botany. But when he got a headache, he stopped being singular. He doubled, from one Carl to two.

...the phantom might sit in Linnaeus' seat at his library desk, and Real Linnaeus, would, presumably, ignore him. One time, Professor Linnaeus was lecturing at his university and decided to run down to his office to fetch a specimen to show the class, and Critchley says, he got to his office, "He opened the door rapidly, intending to enter, but pulled up at once saying, 'Oh! I'm there already.' "

What a strange condition — to be visited by your perfect double, your doppelganger. Dr. Oliver Sacks, in his new book on hallucinations, calls these episodes "autoscopic doubles," and he cites a number of cases from medical history.

How to buy a wife for $6,000

via BitsandPieces

Flooded Venice

Venice Under Water

The Petraeus avalanche picks up an FBI agent, a general and a twin sister

Can we make this story even stranger? To borrow a slogan from our recently re-elected President: Yes, we can. It turns out that Jill Kelley has a twin sister named Natalie Khawam, who has been denied custody of her 4-year-old son because of “serious reservations about her honesty and mental stability,” according to court records discovered by the New York Post. Longtime soap opera fans know the story is never really complete without a twin sister.

About two months ago, Petraeus, who was CIA director at the time, wrote a letter to DC Superior Court in support of Kelley’s sister. The Post describes the nasty tenor of the custody battle Petraeus chose to involve himself in:

Petraeus wrote his letter amid a bitter divorce and custody battle between Khawam and Grayson Wolfe, a partner in a DC-based private venture firm.

A judge in November 2011 gave Wolfe sole custody of the couple’s son after finding that Khawam, a lawyer, repeatedly lied under oath and filed bogus domestic-violence and child-abuse claims against her husband after their one-year marriage began crumbling in 2009.

That judge also found that Khawam routinely defied court orders to let the child see his dad and sent harassing e-mails to Wolfe’s friends and business partners that “excoriated Mr. Wolfe for being a horrible father and husband.”

The judge blasted Khawam for giving false evidence, and noted that a court-ordered shrink had found her domestic-violence allegations to be “part of an ever-expanding set of sensational accusations . . . that are so numerous, so extraordinary and [so] distorted that they defy any common-sense view of reality.”

The judge also noted that she “is a psychologically unstable person.”

Doc Zero: Love and Terror In the Draft Email Folder

The CIA Director and his mistress Paula Broadwell weren’t sending racy emails to each other. Oh, no, they were much too clever for that.

The extraordinary incompetence at all levels of the federal security state.

The general, the hostess, the director and his lover: Petraeus adds farce to the Benghazi tragedy.

Fire fighting mess: a helicopter drew up liquid from the wrong pond at the nearby sewage treatment plant and dropped it on 50 firefighters

Australia: A RURAL Fire Service investigation is under way after untreated water from a sewage plant was dumped on volunteer firefighters battling a blaze on the mid-north coast.

Up to 50 firefighters and four aircraft were working on the 30ha bushfire at Kew, near Port Macquarie, on Tuesday when a helicopter mistakenly drew up the wastewater from the wrong pond at the nearby sewage treatment plant and dropped it on them.

Here’s Where to Watch Today's Total Solar Eclipse

The total solar eclipse on Tuesday (Nov. 13) may only be visible from slivers of northern Australia and a swathe of open ocean, but you don't have to make an epic journey to see the dramatic celestial event.

Several different organizations will provide live webcasts of the total solar eclipse, which begins at 3:35 p.m. EST (2035 GMT) on Tuesday (Nov. 13; however, it will actually be Nov. 14 local time in Australia).

More at Space.com.

Bets That You Will Never Lose

10 bets you're guaranteed to win:



And 10 more:



Richard Wiseman has lots more interesting stuff here.  Via Gizmodo.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Woman Blames Husband for Obama’s Re-Election, Runs Him Over With Her SUV

GILBERT, AZ - A Mesa woman was arrested Saturday after she allegedly chased her husband around a Gilbert parking lot in an SUV during an argument over the presidential election.

The woman finally struck her husband, leaving him with critical injuries.

Fondle me, Elmo: Voice of Elmo accused of having 'sexual relationship with underage boy'

The man who voices the puppet of Elmo on Sesame Street has taken leave amid allegations he had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy.

Kevin Clash, 52, has taken a leave of absence from the popular children's show after the programme's lawyers were contacted by a 23-year-old man who claims he had a sexual relationship with the puppeteer seven years ago, when he was aged 16.

TMZ, who reported the allegations, said that Mr Clash had admitted he had a relationship with the man, but only after the accuser was an adult.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Monday links

WWII Nazi Tank Manuals are unexpectedly hilarious.

NukeMap. Choose a target, choose an explosive, and see how far the destruction spreads.

Defenestration supercut: movie characters driving, falling, jumping and being thrown through glass windows.

Korea celebrates toilet theme park.

Retired priest, 80, bit 81-year-old fellow clergyman's ear off in fight over parking space.

Genital injuries send 16k people to ERs each year

Overall, 142,143 injuries sent people to an ER over the nine-year period.

Incredible underwater image

from NatGeo.

Banana skin slip stops steak knife stabbing

A banana skin saved a woman from serious injury when her estranged husband slipped on it while trying to stab her with a steak knife.

Man caught "bonking a bronze lion"

Man has sex with statue

New details in Petraeus scandal: Woman who received threatening emails revealed

FoxNews: The identity emerged Sunday of the woman who purportedly received harassing emails from CIA Director David Petraeus’ biographer that eventually led to an FBI investigation, then Petraeus’ resignation.

A senior military official said the woman is a State Department's liaison to the military's Joint Special Operations Command.

The official identified her as 37-year-old Jill Kelley, in Tampa, Fla., according to the Associated Press.

The emails from Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell triggered the FBI investigation.

The official was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Another person who knows Kelley and Petraeus confirmed their friendship and said she saw him often.

Petraeus quit as CIA director last week after acknowledging an extramarital relationship with a woman -- later identified as Broadwell.

The FBI probe began several months ago with a complaint against Broadwell. That investigation led to Broadwell's email account, which uncovered the relationship with Petraeus.

Petraeus’ resignation was announced Friday, but new details continue to emerge about the affair between the former four-star Army general and Broadwell, a West Point graduate.

The first knowledge of the affair outside the FBI came from an FBI whistle-blower who contacted a Capitol Hill Republican who told House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., got a tip from a friend who knew the whistle-blower, as reported by The New York Times.

Sources tell Fox News that Reichert talked to the whistle-blower, then referred him to Cantor. The whistle-blower talked to the majority leader’s office, then to Cantor directly. The whistle-blower -- who purportedly was concerned about a possible national security breach --was then put in touch with FBI Director Robert Mueller.

"Our office stands by the accuracy of the New York Times article as it pertains to Rep. Reichert,” the congressman’s office said Sunday.” We have no further comment about our involvement."

It appears the whistle-blower has yet to claim legal whistle-blower status.

Cantor staffers said they didn't immediately tell the House Intelligence Committee or chamber leaders because they didn't know whether the tip was credible. So they turned it over to the FBI.

The investigation led first to Broadwell’s email account then to Petraeus’ personal account.

No security breaches appear to have occurred in the email exchange, but Capitol Hill lawmakers expressed shock and disappointment about the stunning revelations and said Petraeus made the correct choice in resigning.

“It was like a lightning bolt,” Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told “Fox News Sunday.” “I’m heartbroken. This is very, very hard. But I do think he did the right thing.”

Reports suggest the investigation started months ago and that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was informed of the findings at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

President Obama first learned Thursday when told by Petraeus, according to reporting so far.

Closed-door House and Senate intelligence committee hearings are scheduled Thursday on the incidents surrounding the fatal Libya attacks. Petraeus -- who reportedly conducted his own, on-the-ground investigation – is no longer scheduled to testify.

However, Feinstein and Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the ranking Republican on the Senate intelligence committee, said Sunday that Petraeus could later be called to testify.

“I wouldn’t rule out Gen. Petraeus being called to testify,” Chambliss said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Broadwell told Fox News earlier this year when talking about the biography “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus” that she met Petraeus when she was a post-graduate student at Harvard and he came to the university to speak.

They kept in touch via email and went running together when she came to Washington, Broadwell said on Don Imus’ Fox Business show.

“He gave me his card,” said Broadwell, who co-wrote the book. “We kept in touch.”

Broadwell also called Petraeus’ wife of 38 years, Holly Petraeus, “a wonderful military spouse.”

FBI spokesman Paul Bresson has declined to comment on the information that the affair had been discovered in the course of an investigation by the agency.

A senior staffer with the House Intelligence Committee tells Fox News that Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., has been briefed on the resignation and has “serious questions and serious concerns about the resignation and circumstances surrounding it."

Sources tell Fox News that there is serious concern whether the chairman and ranking members of the committee were given appropriate notification by the FBI that Petraeus’ name had surfaced within the scope of an investigation.

Petraeus, who turned 60 on Wednesday, met his wife when he was a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. She was the daughter of the academy superintendent. They have two children, and their son led an infantry platoon in Afghanistan.

Holly Petraeus also works in the Obama administration, for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

In a message to staff, Petraeus said he asked "to be allowed" to step down.

"After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours," the retired four-star general said. "This afternoon, the president graciously accepted my resignation."

The move comes amid the unfolding controversy surrounding the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya. Scrutiny has fallen on a range of agencies, including the CIA.

Obama, in a written statement, said Petraeus provided "extraordinary service to the United States for decades."

"By any measure, he was one of the outstanding general officers of his generation, helping our military adapt to new challenges, and leading our men and women in uniform through a remarkable period of service in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he helped our nation put those wars on a path to a responsible end," Obama said.

The White House has named Michael Morell, the agency's deputy director, to serve as acting director.

The decision abruptly ends the public-service career of one of the military's most vaunted leaders. He led the surge in Iraq, and was later tapped to lead U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan -- following two years at the helm of U.S. Central Command. In April 2011, Obama again tapped Petraeus to lead the CIA.

He left just three days after Obama was elected to a second term, and amid a challenging environment for the country's intelligence community -- which is dealing with not just rogue nations like Iran, but a changing landscape elsewhere as a result of the Arab Spring. It has been confirmed that the U.S. compound that was attacked in Libya housed CIA operatives as well as State Department staff.

The intelligence community subsequently came under scrutiny when some officials suggested the administration initially claimed the attack was "spontaneous" only because of the intelligence assessments at the time.

Clapper said Friday that Petraeus' resignation "represents the loss of one of our nation's most-respected public servants."

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill expressed similar sentiments.

"Gen. David Petraeus will stand in the ranks of America's greatest military heroes. His inspirational leadership and his genius were directly responsible -- after years of failure -- for the success of the surge in Iraq," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said. "General Petraeus has devoted his life to serving the country he loves, and America is so much the better for it."

Thanks to Daylight Savings Time, Man Gets Ticketed for Two DUIs at the Same Time

URBANA

The end of daylight saving time caused a unique situation in Urbana on Sunday morning.

Police there arrested a man twice in one day, but at the same exact time.

Chief Matt Lingrell explained that Niles Gammons of Urbana was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated at 1:08 a.m., then released with a summons to appear in court this week. An hour later, it was again 1:08 a.m. and police caught Gammons driving under the influence once again.

Jonah Goldberg: Becoming European

The Progressives won on Tuesday.

I don’t mean the people who voted Democrat who call themselves “progressive.” Though they won, too.

I mean the Progressives who’ve been waging a century-long effort to transform our American-style government into a European-style state.

The line between the European and American models is blurry. France is not a Huxleyan dystopia, and America is not and has never been an anarchist’s utopia, nor do conservatives want it to be one.

The distinction between the two worldviews is mostly a disagreement over first assumptions about which institutions should take the lead in our lives. It is an argument about what the habits of the American heart should be. Should we live in a country where the first recourse is to appeal to the government, or should government interventions be reserved as a last resort?

Blog comment du jour, from small dead animals

Bravo, Kate.

Buffy Episode Guide in Limerick Form

Makes me want to re-watch.

Leadership tips from Paula Broadwell

At BoingBoing:  "Be positive. Everyone likes to be around people who exude energy. Find a way to give energy and encouragement. It is amazing how the right attitude and the ability to make others feel good about themselves can be a magnet for new friends and colleagues! A book that captures this phenomenon is Celestine Prophesy."—Petraeus biographer and alleged email harasser and paramour Paula Broadwell, interviewed for a lady leadership series.

Obama tax hikes that will really hurt are the huge dividend and capital gains hikes

Jim Pethokoukis has discussion and links at AEI.

Who would win in a fight between Tolkien characters and Game of Thrones characters?


Links and comments at io9.

Pumpkin Land





Pumpkin Land at the Dallas Arboretum, via Bits and Pieces.

On the Implausibility of the Death Star’s Trash Compactor

McSweeney's:

ON THE IMPLAUSIBILITY OF THE DEATH STAR’S TRASH COMPACTOR.

I maintain that the trash compactor onboard the Death Star in Star Wars is implausible, unworkable, and moreover, inefficient.

The Trash Compactor Debate turns on whether the Death Star ejects its trash into space. I, for one, believe it does. Though we never see the Death Star ejecting its trash, we do see another Empire ship, the so-called Star Destroyer, ejecting its trash into space. I therefore see no reason to suspect that Empire protocol dictating that trash be ejected into space would not apply equally to all Empire spacecraft, including the Death Star.

The Death Star clearly has a garbage-disposal problem. Given its size and massive personnel, the amount of waste it generates — discarded food, broken equipment, excrement, and the like — boggles the imagination. That said, I just cannot fathom how an organization as ruthless and efficiently-run as the Empire would have signed off on such a dangerous, unsanitary, and shoddy garbage-disposal system as the one depicted in the movie.

Here are the problems, as I can ascertain them, with the Death Star’s garbage-disposal system:

1. Ignoring the question of how Princess Leia could possibly know where the trash compactor is, or that the vent she blasts open leads to a good hiding place for the rescue crew, why are there vents leading down there at all? Would not vents leading into any garbage-disposal system allow the fetid smell of rotting garbage, spores, molds, etc., to seep up into the rest of the Death Star? Would not it have been more prudent for the designers of the Death Star to opt for a closed system, like a septic tank?

2. Why do both walls of the trash compactor move towards each other, rather than employing a one-movable-wall system that would thus rely on the anchored stability, to say nothing of the strength, of the other, non-moving wall, to crush trash more effectively?

3. Why does the trash compactor compact trash so slowly, and with such difficulty, once the resistance of a thin metal rod is introduced? Surely metal Death Star pieces are one of the main items of trash in need of compacting. It thus stands to reason that the trash compactor should have been better designed to handle the problem of a skinny piece of metal. (And while I hate to be the sort of person who says I told you so, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that a one-movable-wall system would have improved performance.)

4. Why does the trash compactor only compact trash sideways? Once ejected into space, wouldn’t the flattened, living-room-sized, and extremely solid panes of trash that result from such a primitive, unidirectional trash compactor pose serious hazards for Empire starships in the vicinity?

5. And what of the creature that lives in the trash compactor? Presumably, the creature survives because the moving walls do not extend all the way to the floor of the room, where the liquid is. After all, if the walls reached the floor, the creature would be killed each time trash is compacted. The design employed on the Death Star must allow the organic trash to filter down to the bottom, where the parasitic worm-creature devours it. But what happens when heavier pieces of non-organic trash fall down there? Would such trash not get wedged under the doors, causing them to malfunction? Do stormtroopers have to confront the creature each time they retrieve pieces of un-compacted trash?

6. Why not have separate systems for organic and inorganic waste, thus allowing full compaction of the inorganics and a closed sanitary system for the organics?

7. Why does the Empire care, anyway, about reducing its organic garbage output? Are we to believe that the architects of the Death Star, a group of individuals bent on controlling the entire known universe, are also concerned about environmental issues? Would organic garbage rot in space? So what? Furthermore, why has the Empire gone to the trouble of acquiring a frightening parasitic worm-creature and having it eat all organic trash, especially given the aforementioned flaws in the design of the compactor and overall maintenance hassles?

8. Personally, were it up to me, I would have designed special garbage ships instead of employing a crude, cumbersome, and inefficient (to say nothing of unsanitary) compactor-worm combo to deal with the trash.

9. If the Empire insists on ejecting trash into space, why do they bother compacting it? Space is infinite, is it not? In such an environment, it hardly matters what size the trash is. In fact, a persuasive argument can be made that it’s actually better for the trash to take up more space, so that it appears on radar systems as something for Empire ships to avoid. Compacted trash creates smaller chunks of harder trash that would undoubtedly cause serious damage to Empire starships. And needless to say, damage to starships would, in turn, create yet more hassles and headaches for the Empire.

Please understand, gentle reader, I am all for creating hassles and headaches for the Empire. I just doubt that the Empire would have created so many for itself. Q.E.D.

via GeekPress