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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.