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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mark Steyn: Containing Hagel

You don’t have to be that good to fend off a committee of showboating senatorial blowhards. Hillary Clinton demonstrated that a week or so back when she unleashed what’s apparently the last word in withering putdowns: What difference does it make?

This week, an over-sedated Elmer Fudd showed up at the Senate claiming to be the president’s nominee for secretary of defense, and even the kindliest interrogators on the committee couldn’t prevent the poor chap shooting himself in the foot.

Life magazine archive of photos from Super Bowl 1

Life magazine archive of photos from Super Bowl 1

How will pro football litigation play out?

Via Overlawyered: if the logic of other mass tort litigation is to carry over to suits over traumatic brain damage from pro football, it’s by no means clear how the organized sport can make it through the coming wave of litigation against the NFL, doctors, equipment makers, etc. other than by turning itself into a very different game. 

Advice: Don't Waive Your Rights And Tell The Cops, "I Was Trying To Make The Horse Have A Baby."

When it comes to post-arrest statements, the admissions made by a Texas man arrested for having sex with a horse are a good reminder why suspects should take advantage of their right to remain silent.

In case "violent" dodgeball wasn't bad enough, kids playing "hide and seek" can make them paranoid schizophrenics

Not The Onion.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Men and women in a nutshell

8th graders on the verge of a breakup, via Mashable.

NY Vet Arrested For Empty 30-round Magazines

Apparently this guy's wife isn't friends with the prosecutor, so no David Gregory exemptions here.

For the possession of the magazines, Mr. Haddad was arrested, booked in county jail and charged with five counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, according to the arrest report. Mr. Haddad did not have his AR-15 rifle in the car, but it is unclear whether he had another firearm. Police say that he was in possession of a New York State carry permit. He was not charged with any other offenses.

These charges are considered “violent class D violent felony offenses” under New York state law and carry a punishment that ranges widely from conditional discharge to seven years in state prison. (The five charges would be served concurrently.)

Kristyna S. Mills, the chief assistant district attorney for Jefferson County, is prosecuting the case. “It’s against the law to possess these types of devices,” she told me in an interview Friday. “He was arrested in accordance with possession of these devices, and it’s our job to prosecute those cases that run amok of the law.” (I assume she means afoul)

Last of the famous Andrews sisters singers died this week

We were such a part of everybody's life in the Second World War. We represented something overseas and at home - a sort of security.
- Patty Andrews (speaking of the Andrews Sisters, attributed)

The wonderful thing was we were together for so many years. We dressed
together, we slept together, we roomed together, and of course we rehearsed together. We never separated.
- Maxene Andrews (attributed)

It wasn't just wanting to sing together again, but the public never wanted the Andrews Sisters to break up.
- LaVerne Andrews (on reuniting in 1956)

No matter how pop tastes have switched from boogie to ballads, sagebrush to sambas, waltzes and calypsos to be-bop, the Andrews Sisters have continued to be faves. In discs, they rank only to Bing Crosby on the Decca lists.
- Billboard magazine, 1946

I wanted to become an Andrews sister. My wish was that they could become a quartet, and I'd be the fourth singer.
- June Allyson (1917-2006)* (attributed)

This past Wednesday saw the passing of Patricia Marie ("Patty") Andrews (1918-2013), the last surviving member of the fabulous World War II-era singing group, the Andrews Sisters. She was 94. Like her older sisters, LaVerne Sophia (1911-1967) and Maxene Angelyn (1916-1995), Patty Andrews was born in Minnesota to a Greek immigrant father (who had changed his name from Andreou) and an American mother. They first performed together when Patty was only seven and became well known on the vaudeville circuit and by singing with dance bands in the early 1930s.

The Andrews Sisters' big break came in 1937 with their first major hit, "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," and their recordings (on Decca) and regular radio broadcasts had made them national celebrities by 1940. Their popularity surged during World War II, when they entertained the troops, participated in Victory Bond drives, appeared with all of the major big bands, including Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and Tommy Dorsey, and recorded such hits as "The Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B," "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," "Rum and Coca-Cola," and "Pistol Packin' Mama" (with Bing Crosby). After the war, their success continued unabated until Patty left (amid considerable acrimony) to join another group in 1951, but they came back together in 1956 and continued as an act until December 1966, when LaVerne was forced to withdraw by the cancer that killed her six months later. Patty and Maxene stayed together for two more years but then split up and pursued various musical opportunities separately until reuniting for the World War II Broadway musical, Over Here! in 1974. After that, their popularity trailed off, and Maxene died in 1995. At the height of their career, the sound of the Andrews Sisters was absolutely ubiquitous, and until the advent of the Supremes in the 1960s, they were the most imitated of all female singing groups. As Patty once remarked,

"We were very fortunate because we had so many hits, so we'd be
singing nothing but hits.")

* N.B. Film and television actress June Allyson is remembered for her wholesome "girl next door" persona in films such as Two Girls and a Sailor and Too Young to Kiss.

A World War II movie version of perhaps the Andrews Sisters' greatest hit:

The iconic war-era photo of Maxene, Patty, and LaVerne:

2 men try to carjack a Corvette at gunpoint, but can't make it go because it's a stick shift

The owner of the car — one Mr. Bean — even tried to explain it to them.

"I had to tell him four different times to push in the clutch... My first thought was I guess we don't have driver's ed. in school anymore... And my second thing was, don't shoot me because you can't start the car," Bean said. "I'm trying to help you out here, you know. Thankfully they didn't."

via Althouse.

Jonah Goldberg: A not-so-doomed GOP

The Republicans are doomed. Conservatism is over. President Obama is conducting a mop-up operation at this point.

That’s the basic consensus in places like New York City; Washington, D.C.; and other citadels of blue America.

And let’s be fair, liberals have every reason to gloat — a little. The GOP has its troubles. Long-term demographic trends; often-irrational animosity from Hollywood, the media, and academia; a thumbless grasp of the culture on the part of many Republicans: All of these things create a headwind for the party and the broader conservative movement.

But here’s the weird part. That’s all true of presidential politics, but less so when it comes to state politics or even other federal races.

Friday links

On the history of curry.

27 of History’s Strangest Inventions

Why We Took Cocaine Out of Soda.

Did FDR Really Have Polio?

12 Interesting Volcano Facts.

Jimmy Kimmel Gets People to Lie About Watching Super Bowl XLVII, Which Hasn’t Happened Yet

These 4 men have been playing the same game of tag for 23 years

It started in high school when they spent their morning break darting around the campus of Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Wash. Then they moved on—to college, careers, families and new cities. But because of a reunion, a contract and someone's unusual idea to stay in touch, tag keeps pulling them closer. Much closer.

The game they play is fundamentally the same as the schoolyard version: One player is "It" until he tags someone else. But men in their 40s can't easily chase each other around the playground, at least not without making people nervous, so this tag has a twist. There are no geographic restrictions and the game is live for the entire month of February. The last guy tagged stays "It" for the year.

That means players get tagged at work and in bed. They form alliances and fly around the country. Wives are enlisted as spies and assistants are ordered to bar players from the office.

Heh - I'll scratch your back....

If you scratch mine.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Did FDR Really Have Polio?

Read the whole article at io9:  A 2012 study published in the Journal of Medical Biography conducted a probability analysis based on Roosevelt's symptoms, with the outcome suggesting Roosevelt likely suffered from Guillain-Barre Syndrome instead of polio.

Physicians and scientists have struggled with the diagnosis of polio in the decades after Roosevelt's death, as Roosevelt's advanced age made him an unlikely candidate for the disease. Roosevelt also experienced paralysis in both legs, while polio usually affects only one side of the body. Polio does not often affect the intestinal tract, yet the events of August 9th left FDR without control of his bowels. The future president continued to experience pain and other sensations in his legs.

An FDR diagnosed with Guillain-Barre would have little to gain over one diagnosed with polio due to a deficit in possible treatments.

The Misdiagnosis that Saved Lives:

Roosevelt did not hide his diagnosis, forming a polio rehabilitation center Georgia before running for president.

While we will never truly know if Roosevelt suffered from polio, the attention Roosevelt brought to the illness ended the most rampant cause of death and paralysis in human history, a disease dating to Ancient Egypt. Not a bad outcome for a possible misdiagnosis.

Authoritarianism increased last year in Russia to levels unseen since the Soviet era

Authoritarianism increased last year in Russia to levels unseen since the Soviet era with a raft of harsh laws curbing political freedoms and harassment of opposition activists and critics, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.

The crackdown coincided with the return of Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin and the appointment of his predecessor and protégé, Dmitry Medvedev, as prime minister.

Comments and links at HotAir.

Medical self-defense: why can I buy a gun to save myself, but not a kidney?

Tyler Cohen has links and more comments at Marginal Revolution:

Americans have historically put great weight on the right of self-defense which is one reason why many people support the 2nd Amendment, as the Supreme Court noted explicitly in District of Columbia v. Heller. But what about medical self-defense? John Robertson argues:

A person can buy a handgun for self-defense but cannot pay for an organ donation to save her life because of the National Organ Transplantation Act’s (NOTA) total ban on paying “valuable consideration” for an organ donation. This article analyzes whether the need for an organ transplant, and thus the paid organ donations that might make them possible, falls within the constitutional protection of the life and liberty clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. If so, government would have to show more than a rational basis to uphold NOTA’s ban on paid donations.

Russian Family Isolated From Human Contact for 40 Years

Fascinating story of a family who ran into the wilderness in 1936 to escape religious persecution.  

As Suspected, OWS Was Populated by White Guys with Money

Researchers surveyed 729 people who participated in a May 1 rally last year and were involved in the “occupation” of Zuccotti Park in the fall of 2011, and found that they were more affluent, whiter, younger, much more highly educated, and more likely to be male than the average New Yorker.

Non-Hispanic whites constituted 62 percent of all respondents, though they make up only 33 percent of New York City residents. While only about a third of Americans hold bachelors’ degrees, 76 percent of respondents who had completed their education had a four-year college degree and 39 percent had graduate degrees. Among college graduates, more than a quarter went to top-ranked schools, which might help explain why the majority of graduates under 30 had some student debt. While 10 percent of participants were unemployed, 71 percent were employed in professional occupations. Eight percent were “blue collar.”

Sandwich generation: supporting both adult children and aging parents

"One thing I’ve learned is, your house is a revolving door.”

I've learned that, too.  Luckily, I really like all the kids and grandkids who circulate in an out of my house.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Brace Yourself for a Rat Infestation… EPA Bans D-Con

Links and details at Gateway Pundit.

Not The Onion: Zimbabwe has just $217 left in the bank

At CBS: “Last week when we paid civil servants there was $217 in government coffers,” Finance Minister Tendai Biti said, according to The Telegraph. “The government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment.”

That last admission was an understatement not because of his assessment of paralysis, but because he implied the problem is only a recent one.

The country that was once considered southern Africa’s “breadbasket” for its fertile lands and rich mineral deposits has been experiencing slow but certain ruin due to more than three decades of largely despotic rule by President Robert Mugabe.

105-year-old passes her driving test

The great-grandmother of 17 from Santa Barbara, who also holds the record for being the oldest person on Facebook, is not slowing down despite her advancing years.

She has been officially declared the oldest driver in California after passing her test to renew her license on Wednesday - which she described as a 'snap'.

Uranus takes a pounding more frequently than thought

Does there ever come a point in your life when Uranus isn't funny?

How Much Would A Death Star Really Cost?

Details at Transterrestrial Musings:

To the disappointment of thousands who signed the petition, the Obama administration recently informed us that it has, and will have no plans to build a Star-Wars-style death star. Now, there may indeed be good reasons to forgo this addition to the nation’s defense, but the first one listed, that it would cost 850 quadrillion dollars, was based on an extremely flawed estimate. Which isn’t surprising, because among the people doing the estimating, only one has any experience in aerospace engineering (and probably none in costing of such projects).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"These are the times that try men's souls": Thomas Paine was born 281 years ago today

These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of men and women. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have the consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; 'tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom would not be so highly rated.
- Thomas Paine (The Crisis, Introduction)

It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving. It consists in professing to believe what one does not believe.
- Paine (The Age of Reason, Pt. 1)

Persecution is not an original feature of any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all law-religions, or religions established by law.
- Paine (The Rights of Man)

When, in countries that are called civilized, we see age going to the workhouse and youth to the gallows, something must be wrong in the system of government.
- Paine (The Rights of Man, Pt. 2)

Such a mongrel between pig and puppy, begotten by a wild boar on a bitch wolf, never before in any age of the world was suffered by the poltroonery of mankind, to run through such a career of mischief.
- John Adams (1735-1826) (of Tom Paine, letter, 1805)

Today is the 281st anniversary of the birth of Anglo-American political theorist and writer Thomas Paine (1732-1809). Born in Thetford, England, Paine emigrated to America in 1774 and supported himself by contributing to various contemporary periodicals. His pamphlet, Common Sense (1776), played a significant role in stirring up enthusiasm for independence from Britain, and subsequently, his series, The Crisis, publicized the American cause during the revolution. Returning to England in 1787, Paine wrote The Rights of Man (1791-1792) in defense of the French revolution, even urging the British to overthrow their own monarchy. Accused of treason and convicted in absentia, he fled to France but was eventually imprisoned there during the Reign of Terror and was only released by the efforts of the American minister, James Monroe.

Paine wrote The Age of Reason (1794-1796) in France in defense of his deistic beliefs but returned to the United States in 1802, where his extreme political and religious views led to his ostracism from public life. Sadly, he died in relative poverty in New York City.* English essayist G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) wrote of him,

"Thomas Paine invented the name of the Age of Reason; and he was one of those sincere but curiously simple men who really did think that the age of reason was beginning, at about the time when it was really ending."

* N.B. In a somewhat bizarre note, the agrarian radical William Cobbett (1763-1835) exhumed Paine's bones several years after his death and brought them back to England with the intention of seeing them buried there. Apparently, however, the planned reburial never took place, and the final disposition of Thomas Paine's remains is still a mystery.

Thomas Paine:

via Ed's Quotation of the day, only available via email.  Leave your email address in the comments if you wish to be added to the list.

Monday, January 28, 2013

1699 illustrated book "The Art Of Swimming"

Go to Bibliodyssey and see the whole thing.

To cut the Nails of the Toes in the Water

"It is possible to perform actions in the Water, which one cannot do on Land; I my self have often brought my Great Toe to my Lips in the Water, which I could never do on Land, not on my bed. You must hold your knife in your right hand (if you are right-handed) and take up your left Leg, and lay the Foot on the right Knee; there you make take if from the left hand, and with the right cut your Nails without any danger. Thus you may also pick your Toes; and if this way has no other use or advantage, yet the dexterity of the management may serve to recommend it."

Man Got Replacement Candy 60 Years Later

It took him 60 years to collect on a complaint he sent to the Pearson’s Candy Co. in St. Paul.

Bell received a package of candy last week after sending an email reminding the company of an incident that occurred as a teen.

He was a 14-year-old living in Cold Spring when he found a twig in his nut roll. “I bit into it,” Bell said. It was 1952, and he decided to take action.

“I sent them a letter to obviously get some candy.”

He included the twig with his letter.

He received a letter from George E. Pearson, the son of one of the company’s founders. Pearson apologized for the twig, saying it came from one of the peanut vines. The letter was sent using a 3-cent stamp.

But Pearson failed to send candy. Bell filed the letter away.

“That was the end of the story,” Bell said.

Fast forward six decades to 2012; Bell and his wife, Joan, moved from Greenwald to St. Cloud, and he found the letter.

“No one saves as much as he does,” Joan Bell said. “You wouldn’t believe what he saves.”

Dave Bell sent an email in December to the company.

“It might still be in the mail,” he joked. “I wanted to remind them.”

More here, via Neatorama.

Most of What You Think You Know About Grammar is Wrong

As a grammar nazi, I'm not sure I buy this.  Discuss amongst yourselves.

Shocker: Federal Agencies Hit By Budget Cuts Object to Budget Cuts

At Reason, discussing a WaPo article:

Turns out that reducing planned spending might actually mean cutting out a program or two, and the folks who run those programs don't want that to happen. And neither do the private contractors and researchers who rely on public grants to fund their projects.

The odd geographic test for the "angle of the dangle" of men's penises in British films

At kottke, The Mull of Kintyre test:

The British Board of Film Classification was said to have an informal rule called the Mull of Kintyre test about the erectness of penises shown in films and videos. If a man's penis was at an angle greater than Scotland's Kintyre peninsula, you couldn't show it.

The BBFC would not permit the general release of a film or video if it depicted a phallus erect to the point that the angle it made from the vertical (the "angle of the dangle", as it was often known) was larger than that of the Mull of Kintyre, Argyll and Bute, on maps of Scotland.

The BBFC has denied the test was ever applied. Sometimes a Scottish peninsula is just a Scottish peninsula.

Decline In Printed Newspaper Leads To Puppy Poop Problems

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — San Francisco’s animal control agency is relying on donated newspapers to solve pooping puppies problem.

It seems digital newspaper subscriptions and smartphones have cut the once abundant supplies of old newspapers.

Animal Care & Control has been relying on public contributions and San Francisco Chronicle ( donations to line the cages of shelter puppies needing potty training.

Now, the San Francisco Public Library is donating old newspapers to make sure the shelter has a consistent paper stream.

Animal control will pick up the newspapers twice a month.

Agency supervisor Eric Zuercher says the arrangement with the library has solved a big problem, noting puppies are poop machines.

Arizona bill: felony charges for federal gun grabbers

Within days of opening its 51st Legislature, Arizona state lawmakers have begun considering HB 2291--a bill which declares any federal attempt to "ban or restrict ownership of a semi-automatic firearm... unenforceable" in the state.

Moreover, the bill also lists as "unenforceable" any federal ban on magazines for such weapons and categorizes any requirement for firearm registration as a non-starter as well.

As Wyoming, Texas, and Oklahoma have done, AZ H.B. 2291 threatens felony charges for federal gun grabbers who seek to enforce these measures.

The legislation focuses specifically on guns which are made and sold within the state of Arizona, therefore never falling under the purview of rules and regulations regarding interstate commerce. This means the Arizona statute would cover weapons made by Ruger Firearms (Prescott, AZ) and Spirit Arms (Scottsdale, AZ), among many others.

Video: Sea Foam Surprise in Australia

Related video below, and more information here.

Monday links

Dog Power and Dog Engines, with some sidelights on goat engines.  Sort of related: How did wolves evolve into dogs?

The Ten Strangest Firetrucks Ever Built.

10 Most Quotable Movies for Geeks (That Aren't Star Wars Films).

The Military’s Most Science-Fictional Projects.

Everything you've ever wanted to know about toe wrestling.

How did wolves evolve into dogs?

Long ago, some brazen wolves started hanging around human settlements, jump-starting events that ultimately led to today's domesticated dogs. Now geneticists say they have identified one of the key changes that turned wolves into the tame, tail-wagging creatures well-suited to living by our sides — the ability to digest carbohydrates with ease.

Comparing dog and wolf DNA, the authors pinpointed several changes in starch and sugar-processing genes that would have made early dogs better able to digest the scraps they scavenged from dumps in early farming villages, helping them to thrive as they gave up the independent life of the pack to entwine their lives with ours.

This means that at some point in dogs' evolutionary history, packs of wild canids struck up a mutually beneficial relationship with early humans, and learned to subsist on people food — stuff like wheat, barley, corn, rice, and potatoes. In exchange, man earned himself a loyal friend and fierce protector. 

More here.

Today is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas - some quotes and history

Ergo necesse est devenire ad aliquod primum movems, quod a nullo movetur; et hoc omnes intelligunt Deum.
- St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica, Pt. 1, qu. 2, art. 3)

(Therefore, it is necessary to arrive at a prime mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.)

Si enim omnia mala impedirentur, multa bona deessent universo: non enim esset vita lionis, si non esset occisio animalium; nec esset patientia martyrum, si non esset persecutio tyrannorum.
- Id., qu. 22, art. 2

(If all evil were prevented, much good would be absent from the universe. A lion would cease to live if there were no slaying of animals, and there would be no patience of martyrs if there were no tyrannical persecution.)

Attributed to Aquinas, but unsourced:

Abuse does not rule out use.

Beware the man of one book.

Music is the exaltation of the mind derived from things eternal, bursting forth in sound.

The teachings of Thomas on the true meaning of liberty, which at this time is running into license, on the Divine origin of all authority, on laws and their force, on the paternal and just rule of princes, on obedience to the highest powers, on mutual charity one towards another - on all these and kindred subjects - have very great and invincible force to overturn those principles of the new order which are well known to be dangerous to the peaceful order of things and to public safety.
- Pope Leo XIII (reigned 1878-1903) (encyclical Aeterni Patris, 1879)

Today is the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas (ca. 1225-1274), the "Angelic Doctor" who became the greatest of the Church's medieval theologians and by the edict of Pope Leo XIII, Catholicism's "official" philosopher. Born in the family castle near Aquino, Italy - hence his name, originally Thomas of Aquino - Aquinas studied at Monte Cassino and Naples, entered the Dominican order, and became a pupil of the philosopher/saint Albertus Magnus. In his major work, the Summa Theologica (1267-1273), one of the bedrock texts of medieval scholasticism, he sought to reconcile Christian theology with the rationalism and natural philosophy of Aristotle and thus to show that faith and reason constitute two harmonious realms. In the world of Aquinas, everything is arranged in ascending order to God, the only necessary and self-sufficient being. Following a mystical experience in December 1273,
he noted,

"Everything I have written seems like straw by comparison with what I have seen and what has been revealed to me..."

and thereafter, he ceased teaching and writing. Fittingly, Thomas Aquinas is the patron saint of academics, booksellers, students, and theologians.)

A typical "holy card" illustration of St. Thomas Aquinas:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

As Promised, Obama Energy Policy Bankrupts Coal Plant

Via Washington Examiner:

“The (Las Brisas Energy Center) is a victim of EPA’s concerted effort to stifle solid-fuel energy facilities in the U.S., including EPA’s carbon-permitting requirements and EPA’s New Source Performance Standards for new power plants.”

The Las Brisas power plant had been part of a larger Las Brisas Energy Center project planned for Corpus Christi’s Inner Harbor.Economists had projected that in the first 5 years of construction and operation the project would create as 1,300 direct and 2,600 indirect jobs. Now none of those jobs will exist.