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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Monday Links

Dave Barry’s Year in Review is excellent, as always: 2013 was a zombie of a year.

Compilation: 100 Greatest Action Movie Punchlines (NSFW language), with bonus Conan The Barbarian, The Musical.

Gallery: 6,000-Year-Old Hollowed Out Tree Has a Bar Inside.

The Science of the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies.

12 Hangover Cures From Famous Heavy Drinkers.  Related, The Anatomy of a Hangover, an Infographic.

Magnetic man breaks own world record for sticking spoons to his body.

ICYMI, Friday's links, including DIY lightsabers and the difficulties inherent in hippo castration, are here.

Read more here:

Compilation: 100 Greatest Action Movie Punchlines (NSFW language), with bonus Conan The Barbarian, The Musical.

Watch full screen:

I don't have a full list of the films excerpted here, although I recognize almost all of them.  A few favorites:

The 300.



Pulp Fiction.

Princess Bride.

Die Hard.

Con Air.


Various Terminator  and James Bond movies.

Air Force One.

Dirty Harry.

Conan the Barbarian. "Crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of the women". (See below for the musical version).

Team America!

Snakes on a Plane.

True Lies.

Independence Day.


The Anatomy of a Hangover

Looking for a hangover cure?  

via BitsandPieces.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Headline of the day: No beer led to ceramic squirrel stabbing

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina authorities say a 44-year-old woman angry at a man for returning home without beer on Christmas beat and stabbed him with a ceramic squirrel.

The Charleston County Sheriff's office says in a report that deputies found a man covered with blood when they arrived at Helen Williams' North Charleston home early Wednesday. She told investigators the man fell and cut himself, but couldn't explain why her hands and clothes were also bloody.

Deputies say the man said Williams was so angry when he returned without beer because stores were closed on Christmas Eve that she grabbed a ceramic squirrel, beat him in the head, then stabbed him in the shoulder and chest.

Williams was in jail Friday and charged with criminal domestic violence. It wasn't known if she had a lawyer.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Video: Watch this guy cook a turkey using Lamborghini exhaust fire

A YouTube user calling himself Shmee150 just outdid Guy Fieri, the Mythbusters, and Alton Brown all at once by cooking a Christmas turkey — using the fireballs generated from the exhaust pipes of a high-end Lamborghini Aventador.

via The Braiser.

Brits posthumously forgive Alan Turing for being homosexual, after chemically castrating him as alternative to jail

Earlier this week, the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II posthumously pardoned Alan Turing. Turing, a mathematician and early computer scientist, is perhaps best known for two contributions. He proposed what has come to be called the “Turing Test” in artificial intelligence theory, used to test a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior indistinguishable from that of a human. Turing also spearheaded the cryptography team at Bletchley Park in England that cracked the Nazi’s Enigma Code. His work contributed mightily to the Allies’ eventual victory in World War II.

Turing, one of the best minds of his generation or most others, was also openly gay. He was convicted of the crime of “gross indecency” in 1952, for admitting to a consensual sexual relationship with another adult man. With the conviction, the British authorities rescinded Turing’s security clearance and subjected him to ongoing monitoring, fearing that his homosexuality increased the risk of blackmail by the Soviets and enemies of the Crown. They also offered Turing a deal: he could avoid prison for his crime if he agreed to hormone treatments that would severely lower his testosterone levels, effectively eliminating his sex drive and rendering him impotent. Alan Turing chose chemical castration, answering one of the worst “which would you rather?” questions most men of any sexual orientation can imagine. Two years later, in 1954, Turing’s housekeeper found him dead, after he apparently ate a cyanide-laced apple. British authorities ruled his death a suicide.

More at Above the Law, via Althouse.

Video compilation: The Biggest 'OMG' TV Moments Of 2013

Major spoilers and emotional moments (if you haven't watched the whole series so far)  for Game Of Thrones, Family Guy and Breaking Bad, among others.

Watch full screen.

via HuffPo.

Friday links

Smithsonian: The Coolest Science of 2013, in GIFs. Related: Bugs That Live Under Your Skin and Other Creepy Discoveries This Year.

Pig Man and Chicken Woman: Lifelike Sculptures of Animal/Human Hybrids.

Spectacular Photos of Frozen Bubbles.

Infographic: How To Make Your Own Lightsaber.

Why It's Nearly Impossible to Castrate a Hippo.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Donald Duck's Car.

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here.

Why It's Nearly Impossible to Castrate a Hippo

Chances are you've never wondered how difficult it is to remove the testes of a hippopotamus. Other people have been thinking hard about it, though, because in fact it's almost impossible.

Before sitting down to emasculate a common hippopotamus, Hippopotamus amphibius, it would be reasonable to ask why. They're a threatened species, so usually conservationists try to make more baby hippos—not fewer. But in zoos, hippos turn out to be prolific baby-makers. Females can live for 40 years and may birth 25 calves in that time. This would be great news in the wild, but zookeepers don't always have someplace to store a new two-ton animal.

(Another possible solution: the 1910 effort by Teddy Roosevelt to import hippos as a meat source)

Male hippos can also be aggressive toward each other, at least while they have all their man parts. For both of these reasons, zoos may want to have their male hippos fixed. But there are a few factors working against them, explains a new paper in the journal Theriogenology (that's reproductive science for vets) by an international group of authors.

The first challenge is that hippopotamuses hide their genitals. The testes are inside the body, instead of outside in a scrotum. (Other mammals in the internal-testes club, since you asked, include the armadillo, sloth, whale, and platypus.) This makes the hippo's testes totally invisible from the outside. Combined with a penis that the paper's authors describe as "discreet," it means it's hard to tell males from females at a distance.

Another problem is that testes aren't in the same place from one hippo to the next, and they may "retract" even farther during surgery. Hippopotamuses are also difficult to safely put to sleep. "In the past, hippopotamus anesthesia has been fraught with serious complications," the authors explain.

After moving past the anesthesia problem (they used an apparently safer blend of drugs, delivered via a dart to the hippo's ear), the researchers turned to the anatomical problems. Their answer was ultrasound. Once they had positioned the animal, they used ultrasound imaging to find the testes—then used it again after cutting into the hippo, if the testis they were looking for had scooted farther away from them.

Even after finding the sneaky organs, the procedure wasn't simple. The depth of the testes' hiding places varied by as much as 16 inches from one hippo to the next. Everything had to be done deep inside the animal's body, making it hard to see what was going on. "Grasping the testicle with forceps proved laborious" in most of the animals, the authors write. They also mention using a "two-handed technique" and "moderate traction." The whole hour-and-a-half procedure, based on a method for castrating horses, is described in detail for anyone who wants to try it themselves.

More at Inkfish, via Geekpress.

Pig Man and Chicken Woman: Lifelike Sculptures of Animal/Human Hybrids

Chinese artist Liu Xue creates sculptures of human figures that have been augmented with animal body parts. Not a new genre (think centaurs, and apparently there's a Pig-Man somewhere in England), but these are disturbingly realistic:

Thursday, December 26, 2013

What Is Boxing Day?

Here’s how the world celebrates:

Lots of stores have Boxing Day sales

Boxing Day is observed every year on December 26. Before it took on its feistier name, the holiday was known as St. Stephen's Day.

Many historians think the holiday’s name is derived from the church practice of opening alms boxes the day after Christmas and distributing money to the poor.

Historically, British employers followed the church’s lead by sliding workers and servants gifts or cash on December 26. Merchants tossed servants a few coins, too, for bringing in a household's business.

Why give Christmas gifts the day after Christmas? Because the servants spent Christmas and Christmas Eve scrambling to pull off big holiday dinners for their masters.

Ireland sometimes refers to December 26 as Wren Day, a nod to an old tradition in which poor children would kill a wren, then sell the feathers to neighbors for good luck. In today’s celebrations, the wren is fake.

Despite the name, British observances of Boxing Day involve no fisticuffs. For patricians, however, another sport rules the day: fox hunting.

In other countries, Boxing Day celebrations are more literal. Many former British colonies in Africa and the Caribbean celebrate the holiday with prizefighting events.

Like most Western holidays, Boxing Day has become pretty commercialized. With big sales and bigger crowds, Boxing Day is the British answer to Black Friday.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

De-Icing by Pouring Cheese on Icy Roads in Wisconsin: "You want to use provolone or mozzarella"


This month, Milwaukee began a pilot program to repurpose cheese brine for use in keeping city roads from freezing, mixing the dairy waste with traditional rock salt as a way to trim costs and ease pollution.

“You want to use provolone or mozzarella,” said Jeffrey A. Tews, the fleet operations manager for the public works department, which has thrice spread the cheesy substance in Bay View, a neighborhood on Milwaukee’s south side. “Those have the best salt content. You have to do practically nothing to it.”

If at first it sounded like a joke, the reality of tapping the wellspring of dairy byproduct has become a serious budget-slimming conversation. The state produced 2.7 billion pounds of cheese in 2012, the most of any in the nation. With it comes a surplus of brine that is shipped to local waste treatment plants.

Only in Florida: 'Surfin' Santas' draws hundreds near Cocoa Beach

From my stepdaughter, who lives in Cocoa Beach:

Monday, December 23, 2013

Inventor of AK-47 rifle Mikhail Kalashnikov dies at 94

Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the fabled AK-47 automatic rifle which became a weapon of choice for guerrillas and governments the world over, died in Russia on Monday at age 94.

Kalashnikov who continued working well into his nineties, had been suffering from heart and intestinal problems, and on November 17 was admitted into intensive care in Izhevsk in central Russia - where the plant that produces the eponymous rifles is located. The official cause of death will be revealed following a mandatory autopsy.

A public funeral will be organized by the regional administration, in consultation with surviving relatives, though no date has been named so far.

For most of his life, Kalashnikov, who was famous for his frugal lifestyle, was feted as a straightforward hero.

The self-taught peasant turned tank mechanic who never finished high school, but achieved a remarkable and lasting feat of engineering while still in his twenties.

He was forever asked if he regretted engineering the weapon that probably killed more than any other in the last fifty years.

"I invented it for the protection of the Motherland. I have no regrets and bear no responsibility for how politicians have used it," he told them.
Senior Sergeant Mikhail Kalashnikov
 as he designed his AK-47 assault rifle.
 (RIA Novosti)

On a few occasions, when in a more reflective mood, the usually forceful Kalashnikov wondered what might have been.

"I'm proud of my invention, but I'm sad that it is used by terrorists," he said once.

"I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work – for example a lawnmower."

Indeed, at his museum in Izhevsk, where he spent most of his life working at the factory that was eventually named after him, there is an ingenious mechanical lawnmower Kalashnikov invented to more easily take care of the lawn at his country house.

It’s not what he will be remembered for.

Considering his age and circumstances, it was hardly surprising that Kalashnikov felt he could best serve his country by creating weapons.

Born in 1919, Mikhail was the seventeenth child of well-off peasants. When he was eleven, during Joseph Stalin’s collectivization campaign his parents had their land confiscated, and the whole family was exiled to Siberia (a fact rarely mentioned in fawning Soviet-era biographies).

As the country began to mobilize ahead of a war that seemed inevitable, but was as yet undeclared, Kalashnikov chose to go into a tank brigade.

His aptitude for engineering was immediately apparent.

He was allowed to create several modifications – a tank shot counter, a running time meter – that were to be adopted for the whole Red Army, and made him famous. He was destined to go on an engineering course, when Operation Barbarossa intervened.

Kalashnikov’s own career as a tank commander was cut short in the first few months of the conflict on the Eastern Front, when an explosive shell ripped open his shoulder.

Kalashnikov says the germ of the idea came to him as he recuperated in hospital.

But the invention of the AK-47 was not a Eureka moment, but a trial-and-error process of modifications and improvements undertaken by a team over six years.

While for propaganda purposes Kalashnikov’s invention was presented as a radically new development, it was based on several principles that had already been seen in British, Russian and Italian weapons to which the inventor had easy access as he drew up his blueprints.

Its main precursor was the German StG 44, the first truly effective automatic weapon of World War II.

But at the same time, Kalashnikov’s masterstroke was to combine the mechanisms of previous weapons to create something with a completely new function.

AK-47 is not a weapon designed for accuracy tests at the firing range. It is a weapon for firefights at close quarters, in harsh Russian conditions.

It can be assembled by a person with no military training, is fired by simply pointing at a target, and it can be easily looked after without a cleaning kit. It does not jam by itself (due to the generous allowances between moving parts, which also explain its mediocre accuracy at range) and it does not stop functioning in any weather conditions.

The AK-47 fulfilled its design brief to perfection, even though there is no way Kalashnikov could have known who it would be used by in the end. More than 60 years after its invention, it remains the world's most ubiquitous weapon.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday links

Gallery of science fiction postage stamps from around the world.

Christmas present for dog lovers: the No More Woof headset tells you what your dog is thinking.

Dave Barry's Gift Guide.

From Journal of the American Revolution, 5 Myths of Tar and Feathering.

Boob Glue.

Holiday Hairstyles Sure To Shock Santa.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here.

Infographic: Presidential Drugs of Choice

Click here to embiggen.

Christmas present for dog lovers: the No More Woof headset tells you what your dog is thinking

If you're tired of trying to figure out for yourself what your dog wants, this may simplify your life: check out the No More Woof headset, which translates your dog’s thoughts into human speech.

The Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery designed the headset to measure and track simple brainwaves and patterns, and transform them into basic vocalized desires.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Boob Glue

I am completely mystified by the mechanics of this stuff (emphasis mine):
With bra on or garment on (if going bra-less), remove one "lady" at a time. Liberally apply Boob Glue® to breast, avoiding the nipple area. Arrange breast in desired position in bra or garment. Press firmly in place for one minute. Repeat on opposite side.
What about gravity? Is there some sort of anti-gravity or hydraulic ingredient in this stuff?

Bosom Couture's signature debut product Boob Glue, described as a "surgery in a bottle," significantly flatters a woman's breasts by positioning and holding them EXACTLY where she wants them inside her bra or fitted garment. The sensitive-skin formulated roll-on adhesive will help to lift and separate, give your breasts a sexy pushed-up "boost", or simply prevent unwelcome cups that "overflow'eth. Bosom Couture Boob Glue is also a true must-have essential for keeping armpit bulge discretely out of sight. Perfect cleavage in your favorite little black dress or a smooth, curvy silhouette in your form fitting sweater look as outstanding at the end of the day or night, as when you first stepped out the door. No adjusting... ever again. Boob Glue is also perspiration resistant which makes it perfect for keeping breasts in place at the gym when working out and in bikini tops at poolside...oh-la-la! Celebrities already know it makes any outfit or occasion even more fabulous...Now you can, too.

And there are lots of reviews on their website!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spider-Man Faces His Ultimate Foe At The Grocery Store

Jonah Goldberg: Obamacare’s Silent Insurers - Even an obedient dog will bite if you kick it enough

Jonah Goldberg writing at NRO - read the whole thing.  Excerpts:

Do the people running these firms have no backbone whatsoever?

When will the insurers revolt?

It’s a question that’s popping up more and more. On the surface, the question answers itself. We’re talking about pinstriped insurance-company executives, not Hells Angels. One doesn’t want to paint with too broad a brush, but if you were going to guess which vocations lend themselves least to revolutionary zeal, actuaries rank slightly behind embalmers.

Still, it’s hard not to wonder how much more these people are willing to take. Even an obedient dog will bite if you kick it enough. Since Obamacare’s passage, the administration has constantly moved the goalposts on the industry. For instance, when the small-business mandate proved problematic in an election year, the administration delayed it, putting its partisan political needs ahead of its own policy and the needs of the industry.

But the insurers kept their eyes on the prize: huge guaranteed profits stemming from the diktat of the health-insurance mandate. When asked how he silenced opponents in the health industry during his successful effort to socialize medicine, Aneurin Bevan, creator of the British National Health Service, responded, “I stuffed their mouths with gold.”

just last week, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that she was “urging” insurers to ignore both their contracts and the law and simply cover people on the honor system — as if they were enrolled and paid up. She also wants doctors and hospitals to take patients, regardless of whether they are in a patient’s insurance network or even if the patient is properly insured at all. Just go ahead and extend the deadline for paying, she urged insurers; we’ll work out the paperwork later.

Of course, urging isn’t forcing. But as Avik Roy of Forbes notes, the difference is subtle. HHS also announced last week that it will consider compliance with its suggestions when determining which plans to allow on the exchanges next year. A request from HHS is like being asked a “favor” by the Godfather; compliance is less than voluntary.

Wednesday links

Did the bad guys in The Hobbit lose to the good guys because of a Vitamin D deficiency?

It was a dark and stormy night - a selection of winners from the Bulwer-Lytton bad fiction writing contest.  Related: Winner of Literary Review's bad sex in fiction award has been announced. Here are the contenders, including Woody Guthrie (This one is NSFW due to language)

Great Literary Christmas Tales That Aren’t  A Christmas Carol.

At Christmas, this town builds a Giant Yule goat and then torches it.

Pneumatic Tube System Delivers Burgers At 87MPH, plus bonus pneumatic tube links.

At what point in human history were there too many (English) books to b able to read them all in one lifetime?

ICYMI, Monday's links are here.

Pneumatic Tube System Delivers Burgers At 87MPH, plus bonus pneumatic tube links

A restaurant in Christchurch, New Zealand, plans to install a pneumatic tube system for delivering sliders and a “wee packet of chips—um, fries,” chef Richie Ward explained.

The food, which will come enclosed in stainless steel capsules, will go barreling through the tubes at 87 miles per hour (140 kilometers per hour). Air brakes will slow the capsules to a safer speed before they drop down from above patrons’ tables, or rise up from below the tabletop, depending on the location of the table. The whole system will take a year to install and test, New Zealand’s The Press reports.

PopSci articles on Pneumatic tubes:

In 1874, Popular Science published a description of London’s Pneumatic Dispatch “for the conveyance of small parcels of goods from place to place.” A 1949 feature on Brookhaven National Laboratory’s nuclear reactor includes diagrams of its pneumatic tube system. And in 1930, the magazine published a feature about pneumatic tubes used for transporting everything from coal to wheat to mail. (You can still see those now-dormant mail systems in older New York City office buildings; at the time, they were new.)

At the Atlantic: Pneumatic Tubes: A Brief History has some excellent illustrations, as does this article: Series of Tubes: Pneumatic Tube Networks Then & Now.

How Pneumatic Tubes Work.

Travel by pneumatic tube: 1905 predictions and the Jetsons.

Pneumatic System of the New York Public Library.

Chicago's Strange History With Pneumatic Tubes.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Missouri State Considers Banning Nerf Guns After Campus Lockdown

CBS Local:

Missouri State University officials are discussing whether to limit or ban the use of Nerf guns used in a popular weeklong campus game.

About 500 people took part in October’s “Humans vs. Zombies” game, in which players try to tag other people, who then become zombies. The humans can defend themselves by stunning the zombies with Nerf guns or balled-up socks.

During October’s game, a professor called 911 and put a classroom on lockdown after thinking he saw a real gun. And the university’s safety and transportation department got several calls to its non-emergency number while the game was being played, The Springfield News-Leader reported.

The game is not played inside but it does go on at all hours of the day. The Nerf guns can sometimes look like real weapons, particularly in low-light, said Don Clark, director of the university’s Department of Safety and Transportation.

“When we get that call, we have to make the initial assessment that it might be a real gun,” he said.

Several colleges across the country have banned Nerf guns.

Video: people crossing the street in a powerful windstorm

Alesund, Norway was hit with an extreme weather system last week that forecasters called a “freak” storm. Reports say more than 50,000 homes in the region were without power after the hurricane-force winds blew across Norway. 

Check out this video of people crossing the street against the wind.

via The Blaze.

Monday, December 16, 2013

First footage of Game Of Thrones season 4

An HBO retrospective of 2013, but “Coming in 2014″ starts at 1:35 and includes Game Of Thrones footage.

Monday links

Beer concentrate for backpackers.

These awkward Christmas photos are a hoot.

Scientists create 'robotic sperm'. And speaking of scientists, This is What Happens When You Ask Scientists to Explain Their PhDs in Dance: the winners of the 2013 Dance Your PhD Contest.

Two Brothers Have Been Taking Pictures With Santa For The Last 34 Years.

Little Drummer Boy played by a doggie band (with a few humans).  And here's the Canine Version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

ICYMI: Friday's links are here.

Little Drummer Boy played by a doggie band (and a few humans)

The band's name is Walk Off The Earth:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Just sitting down to watch a movie called Big Ass Spider. Here's the trailer

"Every generation has its defining moment, but none have experienced a Big Ass Spider!"

How many Brussels sprouts does it take to fill a Mini?

Favorite WTF quote: "if laid out end to end, (they) would be the length of a mile of tinsel."

A Slough greengrocer spent a day finding out how many Brussels sprouts it takes to fill a Mini.

Lawrence Jones was challenged to put a festive twist on the classic challenge of how many people can be squeezed into a Mini.

And he can now reveal that the answer to the poser - for those that have always wanted to know - is that it takes 38,182 sprouts to fill a Mini.

The vegetables weighed the equivalent of 29 festive reindeer and if laid out end to end, would be the length of a mile of tinsel.

Mr Jones said: "I was more than happy to help Mini find the answer to this festive challenge.

"I was so surprised at how many sprouts actually fitted in the car, it was much more than I had originally guessed."

After he finished his challenge, the sprouts were painstakingly picked out of the car by hand and taken to a local soup kitchen to be put to good use over the Christmas period.

Peak Schadenfreude Alert

Tom Maguire at JustOneMinute - go there and read the whole thing.  Excerpts:
Were you worried that ObamaCare was maxing out as a source of comedy gold? Hmm, not even a little worried? Well, fine, but here is some more Obama-induced hilarity anyway; today's cast of thousands is the creative upper crust of Manhattan, so you know they voted for this:
With Affordable Care Act, Canceled Policies for New York Professionals
Many in New York’s professional and cultural elite have long supported President Obama’s health care plan. But now, to their surprise, thousands of writers, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others are learning that their health insurance plans are being canceled and they may have to pay more to get comparable coverage, if they can find it.
They are part of an unusual informal health insurance system that has developed in New York in which independent practitioners were able to get lower insurance rates through group plans, typically set up by their professional associations or chambers of commerce. That allowed them to avoid the sky-high rates in New York’s individual insurance market, historically among the most expensive in the country.
But those professional association plans were nixed by ObamaCare. Were the deductibles too high and the coverage too spotty? Au contraire, these people needed to share:
...many of the New York policies being canceled meet and often exceed the [ACA] standards, brokers say. The rationale for disqualifying those policies, said Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, was to prevent associations from selling insurance to healthy members who are needed to keep the new health exchanges financially viable.
Siphoning those people, Mr. Levitt said, would leave the pool of health exchange customers “smaller and disproportionately sicker,” and would drive up rates.
That's right - solidarity! 

Game of Thrones' Daenerys Targaryen (AKA Emilia Clarke) will play Sarah Connor in the Terminator reboot

Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke has been cast as Sarah Connor in the upcoming Terminator remake, Paramount confirmed Friday.

The new Terminator film, from Paramount Pictures, will be the fifth film in the long-running franchise but the first in a planned stand-alone trilogy.

Clarke, best known for her portrayal of the dragon queen Daenerys Targaryen in HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones, has big shoes to fill.

Linda Hamilton originated the role in James Cameron’s 1984 sci-fi action flick and sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Hamilton’s performance was considered groundbreaking as her character broke gender barriers to become a genuine gun-toting action hero.

More here.

Lucky People - a Compilation of Near Misses

Friday, December 13, 2013

IRS Targeting: Round Two. The first time around, targeting conservatives was a secret. Now, not so much.

President Obama keeps claiming that he had no knowledge of the Internal Revenue Service's abusive muzzling of conservative groups. That line is hard to swallow given that his Treasury and IRS are back at it—this time in broad daylight.

In the media blackout of Thanksgiving week, the Treasury Department dumped a new proposal to govern the political activity of 501(c)(4) groups. The administration claims this rule is needed to clarify confusing tax laws. Hardly. The rule is the IRS's new targeting program—only this time systematic, more effective, and with the force of law.

That this rule was meant to crack down on the White House's political opponents was never in doubt. What is new is the growing concern by House Ways and Means Committee investigators that the regulation was reverse-engineered—designed to isolate and shut down the same tea party groups victimized in the first targeting round. Treasury appears to have combed through those tea party applications, compiled all the groups' main activities, and then restricted those activities in the new rule.

Read the whole thing at the WSJ, by Kim Strassel.

A Canine Version of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ Sung by an Eight-Year-Old

This will make you smile: the gifts listed in The Twelve Days of Christmas are replaced by various dogs that "my parents gave to me".

Jonah Goldberg: The “keep your plan” lie just scratches the surface of the deception.

Jonah Goldberg writing at NRO - read the whole thing there.  Excerpts:

‘Obamacare was sold on a trinity of lies.”

That ornate phrase, more suitable for the Book of Revelations or perhaps the next installment of Game of Thrones, comes from my National Review colleague Rich Lowry. But I like it. Most people know the first deception in the triumvirate of deceit: “If you like your health insurance you can keep it, period.” The second leg in the tripod of deception was “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”

But the third plank in the triad of disinformation hasn’t gotten much attention: Obamacare will save you, me, and the country a lot of money. This lie took several forms.

Obamacare may have been sold on a trinity of lies, but it turns out it’s also lies all the way down.

Friday lnks

Taxidermied mice chess set.

Winner of Literary Review's bad sex in fiction award has been announced. Here are the contenders, including Woody Guthrie (NSFW language).

Why We “Drop” the Ball on New Years

Disney Princesses Turned Into Jedi, Sith, & Other Star Wars Variations.

Bad and weird nativity sets.

Hunting for the Lost River of Paris.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here.

Winner of Literary Review's bad sex in fiction award has been announced. Here are the contenders, including Woody Guthrie (NSFW language)

Reminder - NSFW due to language.

First, the contenders:

1. House of Earth by Woody Guthrie

Back and forth, side to side, they moved on their bed on the hay. Back and forth, side to side, they moved their hips, their feet, their legs, their whole bodies. Their arms tied into knots like vines climbing trees, and the trees moved and swayed, and there was a time and a rhythm to the blend of the movement. And inside the door of her womb she felt her inner organs and tissues, all her muscles and glands, felt them roll, squeeze, squeeze, and roll, and felt that every inch of her whole being stretched, reached, felt out, felt in, felt all around the shape of his penis. So magnified and so keen were her feelings that her inner nerves could even feel the bumps, the ridges, the pimples, the few stray hairs along the shaft of his male rod. (Read the Guardian review)

2. Motherland by William Nicholson 

'So are we going to do it, Lawrence?'

'Yes,' he whispers. 'Yes.'

'Doesn't the Catholic Church say it's wrong?'

'Yes,' he says.

'Fucking me is wrong.'


'But you want to fuck me even so, Lawrence.'

'Yes,' he groans, feeling the tip of his cock pushing into her a little way.

'If you fuck me, will God punish you, Lawrence?'

'I don't care,' he says.

'God won't punish you,' she says, 'if you love me.'

'I love you, Nell. I love you. I love you.'

He feels the intensity of his love for her with each repetition, along with the tingling in his cock, and the profound shock of joy with which he has heard each utterance by her of the word fuck. She seems to know how much this electrifies him. She moves her hips, pushing him deeper into her all the time, and as she does so she whispers, 'Fuck me now, Lawrence. Fuck me now.' (Read the Guardian review)

3. The City of Devi by Manil Suri 

Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands – only Karun's body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei. In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice. (Read the Observer review)

4. Secrecy by Rupert Thomson 

I closed my eyes as well and moved inside her, imagining the ribbed flesh, the supple rings of muscle. Mauve and yellow flowers filled the blank screen of my eyelids, the petals loosening and drifting downwards on to smooth grey stone. I kissed the soft bristles in the hollow of her armpit, then I kissed the smaller hollow of her clavicle. I moved up to her mouth, which smelled of ripe melon. Not the wound-red Tuscan watermelon, but the pale-green variety I had bought in Naples once, and which had grown, so I was told, on the wild coast of Barbaria. (Read the Guardian review)

5. The World Was All Before Them by Matthew Reynolds 

In the dappled shadows the bodies cling and thrust and arc and stretch. Toes splay. Arms prop shoulders from which a torso slopes. Two legs spring into the air. A head flaps from side to side. Fingers tense, hips grip and ankles twine. Forehead bows to forehead and hair touches in the air as eyes look longingly into eyes, thighs vie, lip lips lip and…

But, damn, dammit! – what was this?

Anxiously he began to get the impression that his vas deferens was initiating its rhythmic squeezing too soon, too soon …

But phew she too seemed to be surfing the waves of neuromuscular euphoria, so that as, sweating, panting, he bowed his forehead to her chest, she gripped him tight, her sharp nails stabbing; and then they were grinning and kissing each other's noses, cheeks; and then they lay entangled for a moment, breathing; and then they rose, one after another, went for a piss, came back and settled into bed again. (Read the Guardian review)

6. My Education by Susan Choi

Until now, my orgasms had been deep and ponderous things; slow to yield to excavation; self-annihilating when they finally did, so that in their wake I felt voided and calm, every yen neutralised, and gazed on whoever had managed the work with benign noninterest. Never had there been this tormenting, self-heightening pleasure, like a hail of hot stones, and yet she seemed to recognise just what had happened, so that before I had even stopped keening she bore down again. She made me come so many times that afternoon that had I been somewhat older, I might have dropped dead. Had I been a doll, she might have twisted off each of my limbs, and sucked the knobs until they glistened, and drilled her tongue into each of the holes.

7. The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood 

Reaching behind me, I found the Brie and broke off a fragment, sucking her nipple through it. She tasted almost as she had the day I took the drop of milk on my finger.

Manon smiled when she realised what I was doing.

You know the peasant saying? If you can't imagine how neighbouring vineyards can produce such different wines put one finger in your woman's quim and another up her arse, then taste both and stop asking stupid questions… My fingers found both vineyards. At the front, she tasted salt as anchovy and as delicious. At the rear, bitter like chocolate and smelling strangely of tobacco. (Read the Guardian review)

8. The Victoria System by Eric Reinhardt

We made love for five hours. Anxious by nature and always fearing that I will disappoint, I became a different man in this bed – freed of all worries, carried away by an irrational exhilaration.

For me, Victoria was like a deep nocturnal forest that I strode through without knowing where I was going, through woodland, amid ferns, under tall shivering trees, far from any path. There were noises, puddles, odours, dampness, shapes that vanished, treetops overhanging our bodies. I thought of nothing. I let our frolics lead where they would. I experienced moments of fulfilment and astonishment, euphoria and intimidation, and then episodes of grace when Victoria smiled at me, overcome with happiness, as if we were lying in a glade.

And the award goes to Manil Suri and his shoals of atomic nuclei, number 3 above.  Article on the contenders is here.

Highly recommended: Mona Charen has a lovely column - My Almost-Empty Nest

Read the whole thing at NRO.  Excerpts below. Mona Charen's youngest (of three) son will enter college next year. She reflects on the changes:

In just eight months, Ben will be leaving for college. It’s a milestone for him, but it’s also a transformative life event for me. For the first time in 23 years, I won’t be organizing my time with children in mind. I won’t be thinking about buying (and buying and buying) groceries that include sandwich ingredients for school lunches and the quantities of food that teenaged boys consume, or consulting the school calendar to double check on things Ben must attend to (though, admittedly, he’s nearly always on top of things). Nor will I be e-mailing teachers about this or that. It won’t just be a different schedule; it will feel like a different world.

Why did they have to become such engaging and winsome people? It wouldn’t be so hard to see them go if they were dullards.

Women are so often exhorted these days to seek “empowerment” of one kind or another. Power is fine, I suppose, but is it as deeply satisfying as giving love and support? 

I don’t need to consult an adviser about what comes next. I’ll keep busier with work and spend more time with colleagues after Ben goes off to college. There will even be upsides — my husband and I can eat mushrooms as often as we like. But the bittersweet truth cannot be denied: Such fine young men as we’ve raised leave a huge chasm when they depart.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mandela Memorial Sign Language Interpreter Was a Fake

Favorite quote: “When a deaf person complains, nobody listens,” said Newhoudt-Druchen.

The man who provided sign language interpretation on stage for Nelson Mandela's memorial service, attended by scores of heads of state, was simply "making childish hand gestures" for hours.

The interpreter who signed Nelson Mandela's memorial on Thursday for deaf viewers was a fake, according to experts.

The man, who signed for a portion of the ceremony including President Barack Obama's speech, was simply making up his own signs, the Deaf Federation of South Africa has said. Deaf viewers in the stadium and those at home would have made little sense of yesterday's proceedings, including Obama's speech.

David Buxton, the CEO of the British Deaf Association, said the unidentified man, who was supposed to be signing in South African sign language, was "waving his hands around but there was no meaning."

South African sign language covers all of the country's 11 official languages.

Mr Buxton, who is deaf himself and speaks through an interpreter, said it was just "childish hand gestures and clapping, it was as if he had never learn a word of sign language in his life."

He said sign languages across the world share a similar structure and pattern, but his were just strange repetitive hand movements.

“It was hours of complete nonsense. He is clearly a fraud who wanted to stand on stage with big and important people. It's quite audacious if you think about it.”

Buxton, whose wife is South African and also deaf, said neither could not believe what they were watching.

"It is incredibly disrespectful and hurtful to the deaf community," he said.

Buxton called on the South African authorities to "name and shame" the man, who he said had provided sign language for South African President Jacob Zuma’s speech at a military event last year.

The World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI), Sheena Walters, also said the sign language used was not recognisable as any accepted form of international or South African sign language.

The man was seen on stage immediately next to the speakers, which included members of Mandela's friends as well as world leaders, but seemed to be out of shot during Mr Obama's speech.

Wilma Newhoudt, a member of the ruling party and the first deaf woman to be elected to the South African Parliament, said the man communicated nothing with his hand and arm movements.

She tweeted during the ceremony: "ANC-linked interpreter on the stage with dep president of ANC is signing rubbish. He cannot sign. Please get him off."

Asked about the claim by the Associated Press, South Africa's government said it was preparing a statement.

South African Sign Language interpreter Francois Deysel said on Twitter that the interpreter was "making a mockery of our profession.”

More at The Telegraph.

Wednesday links

A Brief History of Prescription Windshields

Beyond Sharknado: Monster vs Machine - Mega Shark Vs Mecha Shark (Trailer)

1,200 year-old string phone.  Kind of related: How to Make a Functional Cell Phone From Scratch

Medieval X-Men Art Series.

Supercut of Archery in Movies.

This Fly Hijacks an Ant’s Brain — Then Pops Its Head Off.

ICYMI: Monday's links are here.

Amazon Rockets - 5 Minute Shipping

Beyond drone delivery: five minute shipping from Amazon:

And here's a "behind the scenes" look at how he put the above video together:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

This will be bigger than Sharknado: Monster vs Machine - Mega Shark Vs Mecha Shark (Trailer)

Mega Shark has wreaked havoc in 2 previous SyFy movies (see below), but now they've built a giant robot shark to combat it!  What a great idea!  And Debbie Gibson is helping!

I'm not sure when this is being aired - I'm sure the information is out there somewhere but there's only so much research one can do into this subject before your one's start to bleed.

Mega Shark's first appearance was in Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus:

And the second was in Mega Shark Vs. Crocosaurus: here's a "best parts" video clip:

More info here.