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Saturday, January 26, 2013

California lawmaker threatening Microsoft over … loss of Sacramento Kings?

Comments and links at HotAir:

As it turns out, Mickelson’s not the only sports entity looking at a Golden Gate exit. Forbes noted that one big beneficiary of Brown’s tax hike on high-end earners could be Seattle, which has been without a basketball team since 2008. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer heads up a group bidding to purchase the Kings, who play in California’s capital Sacramento, and taxes are certainly part of that puzzle

How has California reacted to this example of free-market economics? Have they decided to lower taxes and broaden the tax base to make the business environment more inviting? Perhaps reduced the red tape that turns every expansion into a years-long project, which only takes weeks in other states? Not exactly. No, they’ve decided to go the “nice business ya have there — wouldn’t want anything to happen to it” route.

Muslims complain about Lego Jabba the Hut palace, which they say looks like a mosque

CSMonitor: The problem, apparently, is that the Jabba the Hut Lego palace looks like a mosque. And not just any mosque, but Istanbul’s great Hagia Sophia, and another mosque in Beirut, Jami al-Kabir.

I've been to the Hagia Sophia, and I don't see it, unless you think everything with a dome counts.  Not sure about the other one.

Hagia Sophia

I can't find any images of the Jami al-Kabir that look at all like the Lego set - here it is:

Judge rules EPA can’t mandate use of nonexistent biofuels

Daily Caller: A federal court delivered a serious blow to the Environmental Protection Agency’s renewable fuel agenda, ruling that the agency exceeded its authority by mandating refiners use cellulosic biofuels, which aren't commercially available.

The court sided with the country’s chief oil and gas lobby, the American Petroleum Institute, in striking down the 2012 EPA mandate that would have forced refineries to purchase more than $8 million in credits for 8.65 million of gallons of the cellulosic biofuel. 

Scam Complete: Obama Admin Takes A Page From Diocletian’s Book

Via ZeroHedge, from Simon Black of Sovereign Man blog  Early in the 4th century, Emperor Diocletian issued an infamous decree to control spiraling wages and prices in the rapidly deteriorating Roman Empire.

As part of his edict, Diocletian commanded that any merchant or customer caught violating the new price structures would be put to death.

This is an important lesson from history, and a trend that has been repeated numerous times. When nations are in terminal economic decline, governments will stop at nothing to keep the party going just a little bit longer.

I thought of Diocletian’s desperation a few days ago when I read about therecent sanctions imposed on US rating agency Egan-Jones. It’s a similar story–

For years, major rating agencies (S&P, Moody’s, and Fitch) have championed the outright fraud of our financial system by pinning pristine credit ratings on insolvent governments and their heavily inflated currencies.

In doing so, the rating agencies are effectively claiming that the greatest debtor that has ever existed in the history of the world is nearly ‘risk-free’.

Clearly this is a ridiculous assertion. With a debt level over 100% of GDP, the US is so broke that the government must borrow money just to pay interest on the money it’s already borrowed. They’ve lost over a trillion dollars a year since 2008, yet they still spend money on things like drones and body scanners. It’s crazy.

As with any good scam, the government must maintain public confidence. The moment someone says ‘the Emperor has no clothes,’ that shallow, fragile confidence will come crashing down and expose the scam. Dissent must be vigorously and swiftly pursued.

So when S&P finally downgraded the US one notch in August 2011, the SEC and Justice Department announced that S&P was under investigation, just two weeks later.

Egan-Jones, a smaller rating agency, has been even more aggressive, downgrading the US credit rating three times in 18 months. And while the federal government may not have imposed Diocletian’s death penalty, they are just as willing to squash dissent.

In a country that churns out thousands of pages of new regulations each week, it’s easy to find a reason to go after someone. As you read this letter, in fact, you are probably in violation of at least a dozen regulatory offenses.

In the case of Egan-Jones, the SEC brought administrative action against the agency within two weeks of their second downgrade. And a few days ago, the case was settled.

I’m sure you have already guessed the ending: Egan-Jones is banned from for the next 18 months from rating US government debt. They’ve effectively been silenced from telling the truth.

The lesson here is obvious. Just as in Roman times, bankrupt nations today will stop at nothing to keep up the scam just a little bit longer.

Excellent: Cthulhu in Love Perfume

BTW, does anyone read Lovecraft anymore?

"an amorphous mix of oppressive, piceous ritual incense, macerated kelp, sea salt, sticky dark ocean plants, and . . . mixed chocolates."

Let the smokers and obese die: when everyone else pays, withholding care based on behavior is inevitable

Faced with the high cost of caring for smokers and overeaters, experts say society must grapple with a blunt question: Instead of trying to penalize them and change their ways, why not just let these health sinners die?

Annual health care costs are roughly $96 billion for smokers and $147 billion for the obese, the government says. These costs accompany sometimes heroic attempts to prolong lives, including surgery, chemotherapy and other measures.

But despite these rescue attempts, smokers tend to die 10 years earlier on average, and the obese die five to 12 years prematurely, according to various researchers' estimates.

And attempts to curb smoking and unhealthy eating frequently lead to backlash: Witness the current legal tussle over New York City's first-of-its-kind limits on the size of sugary beverages and the vicious fight last year in California over a ballot proposal to add a $1-per-pack cigarette tax, which was ultimately defeated.

Iowa's Sen. Harkin Won't Seek Re-Election

WSJ: The 73-year-old Iowa Democrat told the Associated Press in an interview, "It's just time to step aside," because by the time he would finish a sixth term, he would be 81. Mr. Harkin said his decision also would allow a new generation of Democrats to seek higher office.

The announcement comes as a surprise, considering that the senator has $2.7 million in his campaign war chest, and was planning a fundraiser next month. Mr. Harkin played a lead role in urging the Senate's more liberal members to back the 2010 health-care bill.

15 Of The Funniest Texts From Dad

More here.

2013 Puppy Bowl Teams To Be Coached By Two Dogs From Same Litter

For the first time in its nine-year history, Animal Planet’s annual Puppy Bowl will feature a coaching matchup between puppies from the same litter, with two 14-week-old Bernese Mountain Dog brothers calling the plays for Puppy Bowl IX, sources confirmed Thursday.

Higher Ed Gamechanger? College Degree, No Class Time Required

University of Wisconsin to Offer a Bachelor's to Students Who Take Online Competency Tests About What They Know. 

Colleges and universities are rushing to offer free online classes known as "massive open online courses," or MOOCs. But so far, no one has figured out a way to stitch these classes together into a bachelor's degree.

Now, educators in Wisconsin are offering a possible solution by decoupling the learning part of education from student assessment and degree-granting.

via Geekpress.

'Stoner Mice' Eat Marijuana Evidence At Kansas Police Storage Facility

The three bags of marijuana at the police storage facility in Wichita had been torn open. Some was missing. At first blush, it seemed a clear case of evidence tampering.

I don't know why libs keep forgetting that he just reads from the teleprompter: O's speechwriter proud of inaugural speech

Jon Favreau, director of speechwriting for the White House, acknowledged grappling with all these challenges. The speech, which Favreau said would probably be one of the last he will write in his current post, was praised as crisp, bold and assertive.

Feinstein Gun Control Bill to Exempt Government Officials

Weekly Standard has more detail. Via Instapundit, who asks whether this a Titles Of Nobility Clause violation.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Cat people, this one's for you: New Zealand want to ban cats

An economist in New Zealand named Gareth Morgan has made the logical and quite correct case that his island nation should eliminate its cats in order to protect its endangered birds. He means “elimination” in the most humane way possible: Existing pets should be spayed and neutered and allowed to live out their lives, but no new cats should be allowed to be born or imported. He is not advocating that people poison feral cats, as a former researcher at the Smithsonian National Zoo was convicted of doing a few years ago. Nor does he say people should shoot them, as particularly avid birdwatchers have done. That would be really wrong.

via Instapundit.

Women look their worst at 3:30 on Wednesday afternoons

Well, it is hump day.  Perhaps they've been humping.

That Constitution thing keeps getting in his way: Obama's recess appointments to NLRB are unconstitutional, court says

Well, duh. We all knew that already, but having a court say it helps.

WASHINGTON -- In an embarrassing setback for President Barack Obama, a federal appeals court panel ruled that he violated the Constitution in making recess appointments last year, a decision that would effectively curtail a president's ability to bypass the Senate to fill administration vacancies.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said that Obama did not have the power to make three recess appointments last year to the National Labor Relations Board because the Senate was officially in session -- and not in recess -- at the time. If the decision stands, it could invalidate hundreds of board decisions.

The court said the president could only fill vacancies with the recess appointment procedure if the openings arise when the Senate is in an official recess, which it defined as the break between sessions of Congress.

The ruling also threw into question Obama's recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray's appointment, also made at the same time, has been challenged in a separate case.

The White House had no immediate comment, but is expected to appeal the decision. The same issue is currently before several other federal appeals courts.

It appears Cyprus is going to default

So even if Europe has made its first big decision — to force Cyprus to default — it still faces many more. Should it amend the ESM treaty to make any restructuring easier? Should it impose a haircut on Cyprus’s uninsured depositors? And how can it structure the process to minimize the chances of a messy bank run, default, and possibly even exit from the euro? It’s easy to dismiss Cyprus as too small to worry about. But it’s still an important sovereign state. And if the EU missteps on Cyprus, that would bode very ill for any similar problems in bigger eurozone countries in the future.

Man Who Shot At Pit Bulls To Save Boy May Now Face Gun DC Charge

So, here's the set-up: An 11-year-old boy was riding a bike through his Washington, D.C. neighborhood when he encountered a trio of unleashed pit bulls. The pit bulls viciously attacked the boy, with the young man’s uncle later recalling that all three of the dogs were biting the boy’s limbs. A neighbor who witnessed the attack went home, retrieved a pistol, and fired at the dogs, striking one. The sound of gunfire alerted a police officer to the attack, and once on the scene the officer dispatched the other two dogs. Following the attack, the boy was taken to a local hospital and underwent surgery.

Due to the capitol’s extremely strict gun laws, the good deed may not go unpunished. Since the gun owner neighbor may have fired the weapon outside of his property line, he might have committed a crime.

A police spokesman would not say whether the gun was legally registered. Even if it was, using it on a D.C. street is illegal. But David Benowitz, a defense lawyer who handles D.C. gun cases, said prosecuting such a case could be problematic because the attack appeared to have occurred near the shooter’s property line.

In VA, Action Taken on Several Firearm-Related Bills in Senate and House Committees

Via the NRA.

Friday links

12 Historic Scientific Hoaxes.

Early Explosives, including cat and bird bombs, from a 16th century illustrated manuscript.

If Cooties Were Real, What Disease Would They Be?

22 Fictional Characters Whose Names You Don't Know.

'80s Tech Inventions That Never Really Took Off.

Artist Creates Castles from Icicles.

What would it cost to build a literal house of pancakes?

More detail here.

You'll Spend 43 Days On Hold In Your Lifetime

Your call is important to us....

Bad Lip Reading: Obama’s Inauguration


Jonah Goldberg on Hillary's Benghazi testimony, and why the lies matter

Read the whole thing here.

The lying, while outrageous, is incidental to the real offense, which is twofold. First, why did the administration lie? Well, it wanted to conceal its utter failure to prepare for terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 -- which is like being surprised by Christmas falling on Dec. 25. Also, the Obama administration, by which I mean the Obama campaign, was desperate to protect its hyped record of fighting terrorism. A "spontaneous" attack invited not by the administration's shortcomings but by some nutty video was just the ticket.

Indeed, on this score, Clinton was true to her word. While none of the murderers have been apprehended, the filmmaker is in jail, the picture of his arrest splashed across the globe.

Which brings us to the second part: the nature of the lie. Remember, not all lies are equally harmful. In this case, the U.S. government responded to the murder of four Americans by treating our constitutional rights as part of the problem. A former teacher of constitutional law, Obama was happy to watch the country argue new limits on free expression and the necessity of giving bloodthirsty savages and terrorists a heckler's veto on what Americans can do or say.

Clinton was in on that lie, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dont Mess with Glock Girls: Gun safety video

Man who lost nose to cancer will grow a new one on his arm

Scientists are using the unnamed man’s bone marrow cells to grow a new nose on two nose-shaped scaffolds in the lab. Professor Alex Seifalian from University College London told Focus Magazine that an extra nose is being made “just in case someone drops one.”

Once the noses are fully grown, one of them will be implanted in the skin on the man’s arm, which will give the nose some skin.

The nose will remain on the man’s arm for about four to six weeks before it will be transferred to the patient’s face, at which point doctors will have to open the nostrils and bring in epithelial cells, which develop into mucus membranes.

A mold of the patient’s original nose was used in creating the new one.

Costly state energy policies to raise California power costs by 33 percent

Due to federal and state level policies that provide incentives for producers of renewable power and mandates that require 33 percent of its power come from renewable sources, like wind, solar and geothermal by 2020.

New science on the corrosive, traumatizing effects of high school

Our self-image from those years is especially adhesive. So, too, are our preferences. “There’s no reason why, at the age of 60, I should still be listening to the Allman Brothers,” Steinberg says. “Yet no matter how old you are, the music you listen to for the rest of your life is probably what you listened to when you were an adolescent.” Only extremely recent advances in neuroscience have begun to help explain why.

Snoop To Educate Kids About Pot

8 and 9 year olds?

Pension Tidal Wave Looms over Defense Budget

Walter Russell Mead links to and discusses a Financial Times article on unfunded pension liabilities; over the past few decades, military pension costs have inflated rapidly with no signs of slowing down: The liability currently stands at $1.2 trillion and is expected to rise to nearly $3 trillion over the next quarter-century.

And has this to say:

We need a national consensus that every change to a pension program needs to be actuarially sound, and all money promised to pensioners needs to be set aside on a continuing basis, based on reasonable assumptions about investment returns. This needs to be true at every level and in every branch of government.

Video: the I Want To Eat Your Face song from Naked Space

Anyone remember this?  If you want to go directly to the musical part (and skip the part where they discuss hooking up the alien so they know what he's trying to communicate), it starts at ~1:30.

ZeroHedge: The High Price Of Understated Inflation

Read the whole thing!

Economic data has been subjected to incremental distortion; in the United States, data transparency has enabled analysts to reverse out the methodological changes of the last three decades. The scale of the distortions which have been identified is truly shocking.

Taken in aggregate, the extent to which the loss of dollar purchasing power has been understated is almost certainly enormous. Between 1985 and 2011, official data shows that the dollar lost 53% of its value, but the decrease in purchasing power might stand at more like 75% on the basis of underlying data.

Thursday links

50 Collective Nouns to Bolster Your Vocabulary.

German soldiers are growing breasts.

Scientific evidence that you probably don’t have free will.

I Could Pee on This and Other Poems From Cats.

The History of French Fries.

Interactive map that shows every German bomb dropped on London during the Blitz.

German soldiers are growing breasts

It sounds like a joke from 'Allo, 'Allo: soldiers from a German elite fighting force are growing breasts.

According to a medical report, soldiers in the Wachbataillon unit have been slapping their rifles a bit too hard on the left side of their chests during drills.

The repeated slapping has stimulated the soldiers' glands, giving them breasts.

The condition is called one-sided gynecomastia and has affected three quarters of the battalion.

Professor Bjorn Krapohl, director of plastic surgery at the German Armed Forces Hospital of Berlin, told the German Herald: "There is a very significant link between the activity in the Guard Battalion and the development of the breast on the left side.

"They need to change the way they drill. The constant slamming of the rifles against the left hand side of the chest is clearly a significant factor."


Musical Coffin Serenades The Deceased

The deceased can listen to their favorite tunes well into the afterlife, and so can those who are mourning thanks to the CataTomb tombstone that has an upgradeable music server that runs on a 2.5GHz Intel processor and a 4G wireless connection (allowing the living to manage playlists online from afar).  So I guess if you really dislike someone you can force them to "listen" to rap in the afterlife.

From Michael Yon, the Army's memo on fiscal cuts

US Military Preparing to take Gut Shot

Life Magazine photo archive - inaugurations 1933 - 1969

Eisenhower and Nixon, 1957
Dwight Eisenhower shakes hands with poet Robert Frost after Frost recited one of his poems from memory at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy in 1961. (The glare of January sunlight on his papers made it impossible for Frost to read a new poem he had written expressly for the event.)
See the whole set here.

Wrong on Women Warriors

Any claim that our fighting forces are not reaching their maximum potential because females are not included is absurd. The number of women who are the equal to reasonably well-developed men in upper-body strength and who have the same stamina and endurance is vanishingly small. Because the number of women who will meet the military’s already debased physical-fitness standard will not satisfy the feminists’ demand for representation, the fitness standard will inevitably be lowered across the board or for women alone, as we have seen in civilian uniformed forces.

I am not aware of any comparable crusade to create gender-integrated football teams. At least America knows what’s really important.

Spengler: Denial still is a river in Egypt

Egypt is running out of everything, except well-wishers from the Western foreign policy establishment, for which the Arab Spring has been a humiliating proposition.

The deterioration of the Arab Spring into societal breakdown constitutes a reproach to the Western foreign policy establishment, which could not envision this outcome before, and refuses to consider its consequences now.

How one conducts a "constructive discussion" with someone who believes that Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs is a matter we will leave to Senator McCain's memoirs, if ever they appear. President Morsi's paranoid ravings are sadly typical of Egypt's pre-modern backwardness - its 45% rate of illiteracy, its 90% rate of female genital mutilation, its 33% rate of consanguineal marriage - that make it a money sink unable to adapt to the shifts in the global market during the past several years.

A Wealth of Words: The key to increasing upward mobility is expanding vocabulary.

Long article but worth the time, especially if you're a parent (or grandparent).

So there’s a positive correlation between a student’s vocabulary size in grade 12, the likelihood that she will graduate from college, and her future level of income. The reason is clear: vocabulary size is a convenient proxy for a whole range of educational attainments and abilities—not just skill in reading, writing, listening, and speaking but also general knowledge of science, history, and the arts.

Egypt's President Says Jewish-Controlled Media Distorted His "Jews are Bloodsuckers" Statement

Foreign Policy has more.

Obama sent them four jets anyway.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) led a delegation last week to Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and Afghanistan that included Sens.Chris Coons (D-DE), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY). Their stop in Cairo included a 90-minute meeting with Morsy that devolved into an uncomfortable set of exchanges as the senators pressed the Egyptian president to explain his 2010 comments describing Jews as "bloodsuckers who attack Palestinians" as well as "the descendants of apes and pigs."

After the meeting, McCain issued a statement saying that the senators "voiced our strong disapproval of the statement" and that the senators and Morsy "had a constructive discussion on this subject." Morsy's spokesman issued a statement after the meeting saying that Morsy believed in religious freedom and "the need to distinguish between the Jewish religion, and those who belong to it, and violent actions against defenseless Palestinians."

But inside the meeting, the discussion over Morsy's 2010 remarks was much more heated than either side publicly acknowledged afterwards, according to Coons. Addressing the comments was the first item on the senators' agenda, and the discussion did not go well, he told The Cable in an interview.

"We tried to give President Morsy an opportunity, now that he is the president, to put his comments in a different context because he was claiming that he was taken out of context. On their face they seemed to be very offensive and inappropriate," Coons said. "It was a difficult conversation."

Morsy told the senators that the values of Islam teach respect for Christianity and Judaism, and he asserted repeatedly that he had no negative views about Judaism or the Jewish people, but then followed with a diatribe about Israel and Zionist actions against Palestinians, especially in Gaza.

Then Morsy crossed a line and made a comment that made the senators physically recoil in their chairs in shock, Coons said.

"He was attempting to explain himself ... then he said, ‘Well, I think we all know that the media in the United States has made a big deal of this and we know the media of the United States is controlled by certain forces and they don't view me favorably,'" Coons said.

Best newspaper front page today: no wonder Bill's afraid

Jonah Goldberg: Good sense and gun control

It's ridiculous to hold the freedom, health and happiness of the many hostage to the potentially bad actions of the few.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

van Gogh's self portrait transformed into a photograph

We Can Now Make Snow From Poop. But Should We?

A parched ski resort desperately needs water for its fake snow. Its solution? Sewage.

Sometimes a bad application of a good idea can make the idea itself seem worse. Examples abound: communism, social Darwinism, the last two seasons of The Office. And then there's Arizona Snowbowl, a ski resort outside Flagstaff that's poised to become the first to make all of its artificial snow from reclaimed sewage water. In wetter regions, resorts often get that water from nearby lakes or rivers, "but we simply don't have those resources," says resort general manager JR Murray.

Fascinating story: Everything Was Fake but Her Wealth

Ida Wood had been living as a recluse in a New York hotel for 24 years when her sister died in 1931 and everything changed. One of her lawyers, who was unfamiliar with Ms. Wood, worked to figure out who this 93-year-old woman really was. For one thing, he discovered that despite her miserly lifestyle, she was quite wealthy.

A representative from Union Pacific revealed that the sisters owned about $175,000 worth of stock and had not cashed their dividends for a dozen years. Examining the sale of the New York Daily News, O’Brien learned that Ida had sold the paper in 1901 to the publisher of the New York Sun for more than $250,000. An old acquaintance reported that she sold all of the valuable possessions she’d acquired over the years—furniture, sculptures, tapestries, oil paintings. An officer at the Guaranty Trust Company remembered Ida coming to the bank in 1907, at the height of the financial panic, demanding the balance of her account in cash and stuffing all of it, nearly $1 million, into a netted bag. Declaring she was “tired of everything,” she checked into the Herald Square Hotel and disappeared, effectively removing herself from her own life.

While Checking For Terrorists on Disney Cruise, Police Arrest Woman For Stealing Pack of Cigarettes in 1991

While checking the passenger list of a Disney Cruise for terrorists, authorities at Port Canaveral found someone who was apparently almost as dangerous: a woman who stole a pack of cigarettes in 1991 and never got around to paying the measly $85 in court fees.

Authorities had checked the ship's manifest for terrorists, but after running Hall's name found out that she had an outstanding warrant.

Hall now lives in Connecticut, has a degree in architecture, and works for a jet design firm where she helps design jet engines. But back in 1991 she was nothing but a common Florida cigarette thief. As an 18-year-old, she shoplifted a pack of smokes from a Walmart in Orange County.

She had failed to pay $85 in court costs at the time.

Hall was arrested on Thursday and has still not been able to post bail. Brevard County officials must first transfer her back to Orange County, and her arrest just before a three-day weekend has complicated the matter. In fact, Hall may end up spending a whole week in jail before she can put the matter behind her and return home.

Rand Paul to Hillary: With Your Leaving YOU Accept Culpability for Benghazi!

via Gateway Pundit:

So we have a review board. The board has 64 things we can change. A lot of these are common sense and should have been done. But the question is, it’s a failure of leadership that they weren’t done in advance and four lives were lost because of this. I’m glad that you’re accepting responsibility. I think ultimately with your leaving you accept the culpability of the worst tragedy since 9/11″ And, I really mean that. Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post.

Clinton on whether government botched Benghazi explanation: ‘What difference does it make!?’

Video here, comments here.

And this:  ‘Tear-syncing’: Hillary ‘chokes up’ recalling the day she blamed free speech for Benghazi murders

The lengthiest oath required of witnesses in a legal trial is 374 words

In the judicial courts of Burma, until at least the middle of the 19th century.  Read the whole thing.

An English translation appears in Kenneth RH Mackenzie's 1853 book Burmah and the Burmese, published in London. Mackenzie writes: "The oath is written in a small book of palm leaves, and is held over the head of the witness."

Called The Book of Imprecations or The Book of the Oath, the slim volume also expresses the court's sentiments about any witnesses who would fudge facts. The court is fairly thorough in its wishes, touching on the most likely eventualities.

"May false witnesses die of bad diseases, be bitten by crocodiles, be drowned. May they become poor, hated of the king. May they have calumniating enemies, may they be driven away, may they become utterly wretched, may every one ill-treat them, and raise lawsuits against them. May they be killed with swords, lances, and every sort of weapon. May they be precipitated into the eight great hells and the 120 smaller ones. May they be tormented. May they be changed into dogs. And, if finally they become men, may they be slaves a thousand and ten thousand times. May all their undertakings, thoughts and desires ever remain as worthless as a heap of cotton burnt by the fire."

And so on.

The oath itself is all business. The deponent must say: "If I speak not the truth ... when I and my relations are on land, land animals, as tigers, elephants, buffaloes, poisonous serpents, scorpions, &c, shall seize, crush, and bite us, so that we shall certainly die. Let the calamities occasioned by fire, water, rulers, thieves, and enemies oppress and destroy us, till we perish and come to utter destruction. Let us be subject to all the calamities that are within the body, and all that are without the body. May we be seized with madness, dumbness, blindness, deafness, leprosy and hydrophobia. May we be struck with thunderbolts and lightning, and come to sudden death. In the midst of not speaking truth, may I be taken with vomiting clotted black blood, and suddenly die before the assembled people.

"When I am going by water, may the water nats [spirits] assault me, the boat be upset, and the property lost; and may alligators, porpoises, sharks, or other sea monsters, seize and crush me to death; and when I change worlds, may I not arrive among men or nats, but suffer unmixed punishment and regret, in the utmost wretchedness, among the four states of punishment, Hell, Prita, Beasts and Athurakai."

After that and a lot more, the oath concludes with a few thoughts of hope and cheer.

If I speak the truth, may I and my relations, through the influence of the ten laws of merit, and on account of the efficacy of truth, be freed from all calamities within and without the body; and may evils which have not yet come, be warded far away. May the ten calamities and five enemies also be kept faraway. May the thunderbolts and lightning, the Nat of the waters, and all sea animals, love me, that I may be safe from them. May my prosperity increase like the rising sun and the waxing moon; and may the seven possessions, the seven laws, and the seven [merits of the virtuous, be permanent in my person; and when I change worlds, may I not go to the four states of punishment, but attain the happiness of men and Nats, and realize merit, reward, and perfect calm.

Then the witness, if he is still alive and not seized with madness, dumbness, blindness, deafness, leprosy or hydrophobia, testifies.

The whole thing is here.

Middle-Earth PSAs

More here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Why Doctors Should Not Ask Their Patients About Guns

Dr. Paul Hsieh writing at Forbes on why physicians should not routinely ask patients whether they own guns, because it could compromise the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship. - read the whole thing.

Tiger Woods: I left California over tax rates too

During a press conference Tuesday, golf legend Tiger Woods said he moved to Florida in 1996 because of California’s high tax rates. The comments came after fellow golfer Phil Mickelson hinted Sunday that he might leave the Golden State — or perhaps even move out of the U.S. completely — because of income tax increases.

(RELATED: Pro golfer Phil Mickelson may leave US in response to state, federal income tax hikes)

(RELATED: Millions flee California because of progressive tax system)

‘Erotic’ Novel Featuring Barack and Michelle Obama on Sale Now

Surely American literature has reached new heights with the publication of GuestHouse Games, in which Barack and Michelle Obama, “alone in their isolated beachfront guesthouse in the tropical paradise of Kailua, Hawaii,” are “drawn into the ancient Hawaiian spiritual world and into the exploration of their own deepest and most forbidden desires.”

Camel Wrestling Championship

The males naturally fight for their females during mating season and their readiness to do battle is visible in the white froth coming from their mouths, the tension in their hind legs and their tails whipping at their backs.

There is no overall winner of the competition but rather, for every pair that wrestles, there is a camel that wins.

40 Years Later, 54,559,615 Abortions

In a new document, 'Abortion Statistics: United States Data and Trends,' NRLC education director Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon estimates that there have been 54,559,615 abortions since 1973 based on data from both the Centers for Disease Control and the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, a former Planned Parenthood research arm. Guttmacher receives numbers directly from abortion centers themselves and is the prime source for more current figures.

Phil Mickelson, taxes, and the Laffer curve

Following all the reports yesterday of Mickelson possibly going Galt:

At what point does raising top marginal tax rates lose more tax revenue than it takes in? Where is the peak of the Laffer curve?

Obama’s consumer finance agency just handed down 3,000 pages of new mortgage lending rules

Jimmy P at AEI on the unintended consequences:

In his inaugural address, President Obama made the case for a more active and intrusive government. As my pal Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors tweeted: “Obama’s 2nd Inaugural Address was, in its essence, a rebuttal to Reagan’s 1st, 32 years later.” (That was the address when President Reagan said “government is not the solution to our problem;government is the problem.”)
So it was a fascinating coincidence to see this research note this morning from GS Washington Research Group on new mortgage lending rules from the Obama administration:
The [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] has released more than 3,000 pages of rules this month related to mortgage lending.
We believe this will create a compliance nightmare which will force banks to be more cautious when originating purchase mortgages. This further fuels our worry that purchase mortgage conditions will remain excessively tight in 2013, which is negative for mortgage lenders, home builders, mortgage insurers and others with exposure to the housing market.
More Details
The new mortgage rules just keep coming. In January alone, the CFPB has finalized:
·         an 804-page Qualified Mortgage rule,
·         a 753-page mortgage servicing rule,
·         a 311-page high-cost mortgage appraisal rule,
·         a 125-page appraisal disclosure rule,
·         a 431-page high-cost mortgage counseling rule,
·         a 116-page escrow rule, and
·         a 541-page rule against steering borrowers to higher cost loans.
It also issued a 185-page proposal to provide small banks a partial exemption from some QM provisions.
That is 3,081 pages on final rules – or 3,266 pages if you include the proposal – related to mortgage lending. Violations of these rules results in penalties varying from monetary damages, to the return of all interest and fees paid on the loan, to enforcement actions, to losing the ability to foreclose on a delinquent borrower.
We see this regulatory flood – which Congress required as part of Dodd-Frank – as impeding credit availability.
This is government in action. It’s messy, costly and it produces loads of unintended consequences — all the stuff of which Obama seems only dimly aware.

What Gay Guys Think About Vaginas

via Tastefully Offensive

Ultimate Drunk Fails Compilation

Former French President Sarkozy Prepares Move to London to Escape 75% Tax Rate

Nicolas Sarkozy is preparing to move to London to set up a billion pounds plus investment fund, it was claimed today.

If the move goes ahead, the controversial Frenchman will become the latest to escape a potential top tax rate of 75 per cent in his home country.

He and his former supermodel third wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy would be likely to settle in an affluent district like South Kensington – so becoming the most high profile Gallic celebrity couple in the city.

But the former president is under investigation for corruption in France, and if he does cross the Channel there will be outrage.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Why is Spanish sperm declining in quality?

The journal Andrology has published a multidisciplinary and international study, headed by the Department of Preventative Medicine and Public Health of the University of Murcia (UMU), which demonstrates that "total sperm count and concentration has declined amongst young men in the south-east of Spain in the last decade." More specifically, the decrease amounts to 38%.

Telepathy and Temperance

In Illinois during April of 1908...

Mrs. Marvin Miller, of Jacksonville, Illinois, was a passionate Anti-Saloon League member, and a believer in telepathy. To Mrs. Miller’s credit belongs the idea of wedding temperance to telepathy. Mrs. Miller spoke of the idea to her friends, and urged it at several talks to Illinois daughters and mothers. She and her friends even gave a demonstration. According to the Ocala Evening Star of April 3, “[a]t Aurora last week the Rev. William Wasson, rector of the Episcopal church, was scheduled for an address in opposition to the local option. The women…sat in the audience and launched thought waves at him. They say he was so confused that this thoughts became muddled and his language halting.”

With a county by county election on the Prohibition question scheduled for April 7, 1908, the Temperance Thinkers mobilized some 500,000 women to dress all in white and to direct thought waves at voters. “Women arrayed in white will assemble at the polls,” described one paper, “and by concentrated mental effort endeavor to influence the men. The male-citizen will also be subjected to visual influence of an extraordinary character. In order to get to the voting booths he will be compelled to walk between lines of women and girls.” With only a small handful of urban counties dissenting, Illinois barred some 1,500 saloons. Twenty counties voted for an absolute ban on liquor.

The Arizona Republican, reporting on the results, sounded a note of alarm. “We can think of no more powerful influence than the concentrated effort of a half million feminine wills directed towards a certain object. There was nothing unlawful or improper in the exercise of such an influence, provided the thought currents are turned off when the polls closed and were not permitted to play after the counting of the ballots began. In that case, the mental suggestion of the ladies to the election boards would have amounted to hypnotism, which, though not expressly inhibited by the statutes would have been reprehensible.”

As an electoral tool and fad, telepathy seems to have faded after 1908. 

First Term: Obama Increased Debt $50,521 Per Household

President Obama is currently demanding that Congress increase the legal limit on the federal debt without making him agree to corresponding cuts in federal spending.

Funny Aggressive Neighbors Notes

Some good ones below, more at Odd Stuff Magazine.

Smiley faces stamped on the side of hundreds of sheep across the UK

The odd image was first spotted on 20 animals grazing in a field in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

There have since been sightings in a further five fields, from Perthshire in Scotland to Exeter, 500 miles away in Devon.

"It’s like crop circles - but on sheep."

After Years Of Silence, The Plague Can Rise Again

Microbiologists have evidence that strains of the plague may be able to reactivate themselves and trigger new outbreaks — even after lying dormant for decades.

That's the conclusion of a study just published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, which looked at recent plague outbreaks in Algeria and Libya.

14-year-old boy lets fleeing rape victim into his house and fends off attacker with a knife

The guy abducted a college student at gunpoint, raped her, set fire to a house, stole a flatbed truck, rammed three police cars' before police shot him dead.

It would have ended sooner of the 14 year old had a gun.

Monday links

11 Problems Music Can Solve.

Woman to give surgically-removed breast a dignified burial.

Excellent set of optical illusions.

Woman to give surgically-removed breast a dignified burial

A woman in Jönköping, central Sweden, has been cleared to reclaim her surgically-removed breast after explaining that she wished to afford it a dignified burial.

The woman approached a biobank in Jönköping asking for her shorn breast explaining that she would like to be the one to decide its final resting place. Uncertain as to the legal praxis of returning removed body parts for burial, a coordinator at the biobank sought the guidance of the The National Board of Health and Welfare

"We have received an unusual request and I would like to have assistance with the legal aspects of the issue. A patient has had her breast removed and wants it 'back' to bury it," the coordinator wrote. In an email dated January 16th a lawyer representing the board ruled that there is no legal hinder to acceding to the woman's request.

"There is in principle no hinder according to the rules to release a patient's tissue or body part to the patient following an operation/amputation if this doesn't pose any risk for public health." The lawyer explained that in his opinion "in normal cases" it is just a question of packaging the body parts in a suitable fashion in order to ensure that there is no risk of complications or infection.

via Arbroath.

Basic primer on "assault" rifles

Assault rifles have the ability to fire more than one round (burst or full) with one squeeze of the trigger. These weapons have been banned for a long time.

The second correct definition of an assault rifle is based on cosmetic features set by politicians. What makes one rifle an assault weapon, and a rifle that works exactly the same way and looks very much the same not an assault weapon? The politicians that set the cosmetic features of a rifle they deem to be an assault weapon. So this second definition is slippery and can be very broad, but boils down to some group of politicians decided that the rifles with X features are “scary”, and thus “assault weapons”.

Read the whole post.

Good post at Powerline on MLK

Read the whole thing.

Where Are the 23 Executive Orders?

At the end of President Obama's speech the President said "let's sign these orders." In the White House official transcript it reads "(The executive orders are signed)." However, the President did not sign 23 different pages. The President signed three different orders, hugged the children, and then walked off stage.

Compilation of Auto Accident Videos

Watch at your own discretion - some of these are pretty graphic. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Everything's a crime #___: If You Know Too Much About Poppies, You Can Lose the Farm (and Go to Jail)

At Reason:

Although Papaver somniferum is commonly used in gardening, floral arrangements, and food, it is also listed on Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act as "opium poppy." That status usually means a substance can be produced and distributed only by people licensed to do so. But since the plant is widely grown in the United States by people ignorant of its identity as the source of opium, drug warriors generally do not bother with it.

Earlier post: Glenn Reynolds: Due Process When Everything is a Crime

Stealth Hoodie Hides Wearer From Drones

Surveillance cameras are ubiquitous, especially in the U.K.. and in the United States, Congress has already approved the use of drones for domestic surveillance. Then there’s the“Stingray” tool used by the FBI to track cell phones. It’s enough to make even those who’ve gotten nothing hide feel nervous.

New York-based artist Adam Harvey doesn’t like it one bit. So he’s taken it upon himself to design anti-surveillance clothing to foil government snoopers.

Glenn Reynolds: Due Process When Everything is a Crime


Though extensive due process protections apply to the investigation of crimes, and to criminal trials, perhaps the most important part of the criminal process -- the decision whether to charge a defendant, and with what -- is almost entirely discretionary. Given the plethora of criminal laws and regulations in today's society, this due process gap allows prosecutors to charge almost anyone they take a deep interest in. This Essay discusses the problem in the context of recent prosecutorial controversies involving the cases of Aaron Swartz and David Gregory, and offers some suggested remedies, along with a call for further discussion.

The whole essay is here.  And from a discussion on his site, this passage from Atlas Shrugs:

There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt.

Biden will be President tomorrow morning between 8AM and noon

According to this post.

BaBa WaWa hospitawized after fall

Longtime ABC News personality Barbara Walters was being treated for a cut on her forehead Sunday after a fall in Washington, the network said.

My give-a-shit-o-meter has not registered this event at all.

Another paranoid redneck gun nut: Martin Luther King was "armed to the teeth"

On MLK holiday, walking for civil rights and the Second Amendment

Cartoon of the day


Sandbox workstation

This looks great, via Neatorama

Weird obsessive stalker "journalist" from CNN has written Obama a letter every day for the last 4 years

I've never heard of this guy (since like most of the world I never watch CNN), but apparently he's one of their fair and balanced anchor people.

This is so creepy and unbalanced adolescent girlish.  "I did not intend to get in this deep" and "in almost every missive, I invited the president to give me a call. He never did."

Here's the article on his last letter: "I’ve already sworn to my wife that I won’t continue writing to you."

Can you imagine staying married to someone like this?

Here's the archive.

Meet Mike, The Most Radioactive Fish Ever From Fukushima

At ZeroHedge

Almost two years after the awful nuclear disaster occurred, a fish caught near Fukushima on Friday January 18th had a record-breaking level of radioactive contamination over 2500x the legal limit. TEPCO measured 'Mike the Murasoi' at 254,000 becquerels per kilogram (with the limit for edible seafood at 100 becquerels). As Le Monde reports, the previous record (caught on August 21st 2012) was a mere 25,800 becquerels/kg. 

As further precautions, TEPCO is installing new nets 20km around the Fukushima Daichi site to avoid highly contaminated fish gettig too far and being consumed by other species. While Mike's family are no doubt distraught (at him being caught and being so radioactive), it appears (somewhat disappointingly) that there is no apparent third eye, lazer fins, legs, or other 'expected' 'blinky' malformations.

Make sure your cat watches this anti-drug PSA on the dangers of catnip

via io9.

German criminal police who used hidden cameras for 18 months to try to find a toilet paper thief in their own office were probably breaking the law

Der Spiegel reported on Friday, LKA president Werner Jakstat has ordered an internal investigation into the investigation.

Video: boogie woogie piano

Here's Jools Holland & Doctor John (the Night Tripper) as the "Boogie Woogie Twins:

And for those of us of a certain age, here's Long John Baldry* doing "Don't Try to Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll":

*If you're not familiar with Baldry, during the '60's in the UK he played variously with, among others, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Rod Stewart and Elton John both before and after they became famous.

Video: Wal-Mart's New Military Veteran Greeters

from Conan

The Libyan boomerang in Mali

Ed Morrissey: The history of the last thirty years of American policy in the Middle East and North Africa can be summed up in two words: unintended consequences. The US has found itself pressured by outside events into interventions that have ended up backfiring in substantial ways.

In most cases, one can argue with good reason that the US advanced other policies that more than compensated for the complications.

Not so in Libya and Mali:

The boomerang in this case came from our extremely ill-advised and reckless intervention in Libya, which turned that nation into a failed state and sent tentacles of radicalism throughout the Sahel. And what did we gain from the Libyan adventure and the revolution we blessed in Egypt by tossing a 30-year ally to the wolves? In the latter, we now have leadership that feels entirely comfortable using eliminationist rhetoric against Israel; in the former, we have a burned-out consulate, four dead Americans, and a central government whose writ won’t run in half the country. Our policies in the last two years in this region have emboldened our enemies and disillusioned our allies, and in this case we didn’t get anything at all in trade for the unintended consequences we have reaped.

Must read: A Conspiracy So Immense

Clarise Feldman at American Thinker writes this morning about a Matthew Continetti article from last week that I had missed.  I suggest reading Ms. Feldman's article first and following the links to the the original and to additional sources/comments.  Here's the executive summary:

"He (Continetti) picks up on a report by Andy Kroll in Mother Jones about a coordinated effort by about 36 different interest groups with reported revenues of no less than $1.69 billion, pledging millions of dollars to work together to attack conservative supporters and organizations, to intervene directly in Democratic politics, to push for filibuster reform to better enable a push through their agenda without any input from the opposition, and expanding "voting rights" and fighting voter registration laws to further grease the skids for their legislative agenda."

Girl suspended from k'garten after she told another girl that she planned to shoot her with a pink Hello Kitty bubble toy gun. Which she didn't have with her.

School officials in the Mount Carmel Area School District in Northumberland County later found out about the incident and sprang into action. They interrogated the little girl for approximately three hours — without her parents present – according to the NBC affiliate.