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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Book written by 96-year-old woman about her 73 year marriage hits Amazon's bestseller list.

Los Angeles blogger Barbara "Cutie" Cooper has seen a lot in her 96 years: the Prohibition era, World War II, children, grandchildren, a 73-year marriage, the death of her husband Harry in 2010 at age 98, 18 presidents, and countless technological innovations.

But this week she's seeing something new: her book climbing the bestseller list.

"Fall in Love for Life: Inspiration from a 73-Year Marriage" was published quietly by Chronicle Books on Jan. 1. Co-written with her granddaughters Kim and Chinta Cooper, "Fall in Love for Life" combines long-view wisdom and surprisingly sassy sex advice.

Mind-Blowing Ways to Poop

The only known translation of an ancient manual instructing readers in the art of enlightened bathroom experience, the Kama Pootra offers a thrilling rediscovery of the tiled path to porcelain nirvana.

Willing seekers will find fifty-two progressive positions designed to maximize how you do number two.

Every time the bathroom door closes, a new experience awaits.

New NatGeo Photo Blog Features Rare & Unseen Photos From Their Archives

Found is a Tumblr blog by National Geographic that features photos from the National Geographic archives, many of which have never been published. The blog is in honor of the National Geographic Society’s 125th anniversary.

Alexander Graham Bell and Mabel kissing within a tetrahedral kite, October 1903. Photo courtesy Library of Congress

A view of the Taj Mahal on the Jumna River, 1923. Photo by Jules Gervais Courtellemont, National Geographic

Female Royal Navy engineer who fought in Afghanistan told to cover up uniform on Virgin flight in case it offended other passengers

“To clarify, a British airline who claims to be Britain’s flag carrier won’t allow a member of Britain’s armed forces to travel on their airline in uniform.”

GW University Students Required to Lobby for Nanny Statism

More specifically, some 200 undergrads will be asked to contact legislators in their home cities, counties, or states asking them to adopt legislation similar to that already adopted in New York City – and apparently to be considered in D.C., Cambridge, Mass, New York State, and perhaps elsewhere – banning restaurants, delis, movie theaters and many other businesses from selling high-sugar drinks in cups or containers larger than 16 ounces.

More at NRO.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Must read Mark Steyn: Of drones and paramilitarized bureaucracies

The Panopticon State - Where the government can see, it can send a drone.

For all its advantages to this administration — no awkward prisoners to be housed at Gitmo, no military casualties for the evening news — the unheard, unseen, unmanned drone raining down death from the skies confirms for those on the receiving end al-Qaeda’s critique of its enemies: As they see it, we have the best technology and the worst will; we choose aerial assassination and its attendant collateral damage because we are risk-averse, and so remote, antiseptic, long-distance, computer-programmed warfare is all that we can bear. Our technological strength betrays our psychological weakness.

Insofar as it relieves Washington of the need to think strategically about the nature of the enemy, the drone is part of the problem. But its technology is too convenient a gift for government to forswear at home. America takes an ever more expansive view of police power, and, while the notion of unmanned drones patrolling the heartland may seem absurd, lots of things that seemed absurd a mere 15 years ago are now a routine feature of life. Not so long ago, it would have seemed not just absurd but repugnant and un-American to suggest that the state ought to have the power to fondle the crotch of a seven-year-old boy without probable cause before permitting him to board an airplane. Yet it happened, and became accepted, and is unlikely ever to be reversed.

And this:

If it’s not “far-fetched” for the education secretary to have his own SWAT team, why would it be “far-fetched” for the education secretary to have his own drone fleet?  

Friday links

The extremely endearing, scary, and gross lengths zookeepers go to for their animals.

Lego Stephen Hawking kit.

Retired seniors meet every Sunday at the subway in Kiev, and dance.

Blue Balls Blues: Safe-Sex Campaign Stars Pair of Frustrated Musical Testicles

The website explains:

"Rusty and Vern are a pair of balls on a mission. A mission to save mankind from big, bulging problems."

via Adweek.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hugo Chavez’s body will be preserved and put on permanent display, a la Lenin and Mao

CARACAS, Venezuela — Hugo Chavez’s body will be preserved and forever displayed inside a glass tomb at a military museum not far from the presidential palace from which he ruled for 14 years, his successor announced Thursday in a Caribbean version of the treatment given Communist revolutionary leaders like Lenin, Mao and Ho Chi Minh.

Corker: 'Appalling' waste and abuse in Iraq reconstruction under Hillary's State dept

Millions of tax dollars misspent and Iraqis who see no benefit to American-funded projects. Iraqi officials interviewed for the report leveled three main criticisms, according to the report: insufficient U.S. consultation with Iraqi authorities when planning the reconstruction program; corruption and poor security fundamentally impeding progress throughout the program; and limited positive effects from the overall rebuilding effort.

“The Iraq reconstruction program," the report concludes, "provided a plethora of lessons about what happens when stabilization and reconstruction operations commence without sufficient systemic support in place."

The Right to Self Defense Isn't Negotiable

Government compels, restrains and takes. Thomas Jefferson understood that when he wrote that our liberties are inalienable and endowed by our Creator, and the only reason we have formed governments is to engage them to protect our liberties. We enacted the Constitution as the supreme law of the land to restrain the government. Yet somewhere along the way, government got the idea that it can more easily protect the freedom of us all from the abuses of a few by curtailing the freedom of us all. I know that sounds ridiculous, but that's where we are today.

The right to self-defense is a natural individual right that pre-exists the government. It cannot morally or constitutionally be taken away absent individual consent or due process.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Make your own taser sword

I can't believe that no one in my family has made one of these yet.

via io9.

New anti-gun idea to avoid arming women: Teach men not to rape

Read the whole post at HotAir.  Excerpt:
Via Katie Pavlich, I’ll go one better: Let’s teach people not to commit crimes of any sort. Then, not only can we dispense with guns, we can dispense with police. And then we can take those billions we’re saving on LE and use them for programs overseas to teach them how not to commit crimes too. The White House should add that to their nonproliferation ambitions. Global Zero — not just nukes but all bad things.

Google Says the FBI Is Secretly Spying on Some of Its Customers

National Security Letters allow the government to get detailed information on Americans’ finances and communications without oversight from a judge. The FBI has issued hundreds of thousands of NSLs and has even been reprimanded for abusing them. The NSLs are written demands from the FBI that compel internet service providers, credit companies, financial institutions and businesses like Google to hand over confidential records about their customers, such as subscriber information, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, websites visited and more as long as the FBI says the information is “relevant” to an investigation.

Meat inspectors have to go, but fine wines are still on the USDA menu.

In its bid to make the sequester as painful as possible, the White House announced Tuesday that it is canceling all visitor tours of the White House "during the popular Spring touring season." This fits President Obama's political strategy to punish the eighth graders visiting from Illinois instead of, say, the employees of the Agriculture Department who will attend a California conference sipping "exceptional local wines" and sampling "tasty dishes" prepared by "special guest chefs."

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn noted in a Tuesday letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that while these conferences may be "fun," or "even educational," they reveal an agency unable to set priorities that serve taxpayers as opposed to its own bureaucratic interests. The agency fans public fear about salmonella outbreaks even as its public servants serve themselves haute cuisine.

Mr. Coburn and others are providing Americans with a window on this and other fiscal contradictions at #SequesterThis on Twitter, and we recommend that readers take a look. Then decide if the federal government is so wonderfully efficient that it can only cut spending that most hurts the public.

The Official Rules

For a change of pace, here's a selection of "The Official Rules," drawn largely from Paul Dickson's venerable book of the same name:*

Fourth Law of Thermodynamics. If the probability of success is not almost one, then it is damn near zero.
- David Ellis ("Some Precise Formulations on the Alleged Perversity of Nature," 1957)

Proverbial Law. For every proverb that so confidently asserts its little bit of wisdom, there is usually an equal and opposite proverb that contradicts it.**
- Richard Boston (The New Statesman, 9 October 1970)

Wolf's Law of Historical Lessons. Those who don't study the past will repeat its errors. Those who do study it will find other ways to err.
- Charles Wolf, Jr. (reported by Robert Specht of the RAND Corporation)

Gardner's Rule of Society. The society which scorns excellence in plumbing
because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy
because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
- John W. Gardner (Forbes, 1 August 1977)

Somewhat related is:

Hoffer's Infrastructure Conjecture. It is the capacity for maintenance that is the best test for the vigor and stamina of a society. Any society can be galvanized for a while to build something, but the will and the skill to keep things in good repair, day in and day out, are fairly rare.
- Eric Hoffer (America's "peoples philosopher," attributed)

Runyon's Law. The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet.
- Damon Runyon (U.S. short-story writer, attributed)

Tom Jones's Law. Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate.
- Dr. Thomas Jones (one-time president of the University of South Carolina)

Herbert's Law. He who is not handsome at twenty, nor strong at thirty, nor rich at forty, nor wise at fifty, will never be handsome, strong, rich, or wise.
- George Herbert (1593-1633) (Jacula Prudentum)

Three of my favorites:

Algren's Precepts. Never eat at a place called Mom's. Never play cards with a
man named Doc. And never lie down with a woman whose troubles are greater
than your own.
- Nelson Algren ("What Every Young Man Should Know")

Wingwalking, First Law of. Never let go of what you've got until you grab hold of something new.
- Donald Herzberg (former dean of Georgetown's graduate school)

The First Law of Expert Advice. Never ask your barber if you need a haircut.
- source unknown

* N.B. Paul Dickson, The Official Rules, Delta, New York, 1978. Mr. Dickson is a very prolific free-lance writer, still active here in Washington, D.C.

** For example, "Many hands make light work" vs "Too many cooks spoil the broth."

A visual addendum:

Taken from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email.  Leave your email address in the comments if you want to be added to his list.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Stolen Shotgun Hits Trigger on Stolen Rifle, Kills Burglary Suspect

INDEPENDENCE, Ore. (AP) — A burglar died when a rifle he'd just stolen was jostled and fired during a ride down a bumpy farm road, Polk County authorities say.

Detective John Williams says investigators found a shotgun and the rifle Sunday morning, side by side on the passenger-side floorboard of a stolen farm truck, barrels pointed at the driver.

Williams says it appears that a lever on the shotgun got into the trigger guard of the rifle and fired it.

Tuesday links

Scientists Put a Working Eyeball on a Tadpole's Tail

Watch this lizard shoot a five-foot stream of blood from its eyeballs.

Rodent Mind Meld: Scientists Wire Two Rats’ Brains Together.

Train Snowplows Compilation.

What would happen if a hair dryer with continuous power was turned on and put in an airtight 1x1x1 meter box?

Download this gun

Read the whole thing: 3D-printed semi-automatic fires over 600 rounds.

Last year, his group famously demonstrated that it could use a 3D-printed “lower” for an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle—but the gun failed after six rounds. Now, after some re-tooling, Defense Distributed has shown that it has fixed the design flaws and a gun using its lower can seemingly fire for quite a while. (The AR-15 is the civilian version of the military M16 rifle.)

The lower, or "lower receiver" part of a firearm, is the crucial part that contains all of the gun's operating parts, including the trigger group and the magazine port. (Under American law, the lower is what's defined as the firearm itself.) The AR is designed to be modular, meaning it can receive different types of “uppers” (barrels) as well as different-sized magazines.

via Geekpress.

Happy Cinco de Marcho

We will now have a rigorous 12 day training regimen to prepare for St. Patrick’s Day.

Finalists for the 2012 Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest

There's some really stunning stuff here.

Taiwanese animated version of the sequester's non-impact

Monday, March 4, 2013

Watch this lizard shoot a five-foot stream of blood from its eyeballs

In a last-ditch effort to ward off predators, several species of horned lizards will increase the blood pressure in vessels surrounding their eyes, to the point that they actually rupture, gushing five-foot fountains of hemoglobin at the faces of coyotes, bobcats, and other beasts of prey native to the Sonoran desert.

More at io9.

Scientists explain 'beer goggles'

‘Beer goggles’, the phenomenon used to explain how a few stiff drinks can transform the plainest face into something much more attractive, has been revealed as a myth by a brain expert.

“We still see others basically as they are,” she said. “There is no imagined physical transformation - just more desire."... nature sees alcohol closing down the section of the mind that stops us acting on impulse long before it deadens the 'reptilian' part responsible for our sexual urges.

The area of the brain that makes us want to mate is the oldest part - and located so far down that it keeps functioning however much we drink - until we are ready to pass out.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

DHS built domestic surveillance tech into Predator drones

Homeland Security's specifications say drones must be able to detect whether a civilian is armed. Also specified: "signals interception" and "direction finding" for electronic surveillance.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has customized its Predator drones, originally built for overseas military operations, to carry out at-home surveillance tasks that have civil libertarians worried: identifying civilians carrying guns and tracking their cell phones, government documents show.

Homeland Security required that this Predator drone, built by General Atomics, be capable of detecting whether a standing human at night is "armed or not."
(Credit: U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

The Origins of 10 Great Insults

Brat as a slang term dates from the 1500s in England, and meant “beggar’s child.”  Re barbarian, “bar-bar” was how ancient Greeks imitated the babbling stammer of any language that wasn’t Greek.

See the whole list here.

Bunnies implicated in the demise of Neanderthals

I'll bet Anya from Buffy* already knew about this:
Signs that our extinct cousins hunted dolphins and seals were presented in 2008 as evidence of their sophistication. But, experts claimed in 2009, they weren't clever enough to catch fish or birds – which could have given our ancestors an edge. Then came the discovery of fish scales and feathers on Neanderthal tools.
Now, John Fa of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Trinity, Jersey, says Neanderthals eventually bit the dust because they were unable to adapt their hunting to small animals like rabbits.

Not The Onion: JPMorgan Gold Vault Linked by Underground Tunnel to the Vault of the New York Fed

Remember the question a couple of months back about why Germany was repatriating (moving from the NY Fed vault back to their own soil) their gold?

Read this whole post at Zerohedge.

Previous posts:  Holy crap: Germany to pull its' gold bullion from the NY Fed