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Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Thatcher-Gorbachev Conversations transcripts posted online

Washington, D.C., April 12, 2013 – Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister who passed away this week, built a surprising mutual-admiration relationship with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s – including behind-the-scenes agreement against the reunification of Germany, and profound disagreement about nuclear abolition – according to translated Soviet records of key meetings between the two leaders, posted online today for the first time by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (

How to hide small items inside a door

via BoingBoing: In the latest issue of MAKE (Vol 34) Sean Michael Ragan shows you how to create a fantabulous doorstop stash out of a cigar tube, so you can hide things that Obama wants to take away from you (bullets, tiny Bibles) or the next Republic president wants to take away from you (RU-486 tablets, tiny copies of Origin of the Species).

Mark Steyn: The ‘Co-exist’ Bombers

In America, all atrocities are not equal: Minutes after the Senate declined to support so-called gun control in the wake of the Newtown massacre, the president rushed ill-advisedly on air to give a whiny, petulant performance predicated on the proposition that one man’s mass infanticide should call into question the constitutional right to bear arms. Simultaneously, the media remain terrified that another man’s mass infanticide might lead you gullible rubes to question the constitutional right to abortion, so the ongoing Kermit Gosnell trial in Philadelphia has barely made the papers — even though it involves large numbers of fully delivered babies who were decapitated and had their feet chopped off and kept in pickling jars.

The politicization of mass murder found its perfect expression in one of those near-parodic pieces to which the more tortured self-loathing dweebs of the fin de civilisation West are prone. As the headline in Salon put it, “Let’s Hope the Boston Marathon Bomber Is a White American.” David Sirota is himself a white American, but he finds it less discomforting to his Princess Fluffy Bunny worldview to see his compatriots as knuckle-dragging nutjobs rather than confront all the apparent real-world contradictions of the diversity quilt. He had a lot of support for his general predisposition.

It’s very weird to live in a society where mass death is important insofar as it serves the political needs of the dominant ideology. A white male loner killing white kindergartners in Connecticut is news; a black doctor butchering black babies in Pennsylvania is not.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mark Steyn: Media will downplay Boston bomber-Muslim link, same as Ft. Hood, underwear bomber

“As we now know, these guys are Muslim,” Steyn said. “One of them was Muslim. He’s dead — he died in the early hours this morning. The other guy, still on the lam, is Muslim — Muslims from Chechnya. And so, as usual, any moment now we’ll start to hear, ‘Oh well, these are just lone wolves,’ as Rush said. ‘They’re not typical of anything.’ None of these guys are ever typical of anything."

Friday links

The History of Cheese.

America's 10 Most Alcoholic Beers.

Cheating Their Way To Fame: The Top 9 Adventure Travel Hoaxes.

If you happen to be the first person to make contact with aliens, here’s a handy guide.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Today is National High Five Day- a brief history

A Brief History of the High Five: Since 2002, the third Thursday of April is recognized as a National High Five Day—24-hour period for giving familiars and strangers alike as many high fives as humanly possible. A few University of Virginia students invented the day, which has since evolved into a “High 5-A-Thon” that raises money each year for cancer research. Here are a few more facts to get you in the celebrating spirit.

Blue tits provide insight into climate change

I would guess they mean it's really cold out.

Xbox players better in bed than Playstation and Wii rivals, study finds

After establishing which console was used by the respondents’ partners to play videogames, the study asked, ‘How would you rate your partner in the bedroom?’

The results saw just 11 per cent respond ‘excellent’, while most - 27 per cent said their partner was ‘good’, 26 per cent said their partner was ‘average’ and a disappointing 20 per cent branded their partner’s bedroom skills as ‘below average’.

When the results were broken down, it emerged that Xbox players had been rated the highest by their partners, with 54 per cent of Xbox gamers being described as ‘good’ or above and 22 per cent being regarded as ‘excellent’.

Wii players also fared relatively well, with 47 per cent of them being described as ‘good’ or above.

In contrast, PC gamers performed badly in the bedroom study, as only three per cent were described as being ‘excellent’ and eight per cent as very good.

The Boy Scouts of America: Then and Now — A Comparison of the 1911 and Modern Handbooks and Merit Badges

Interesting article at Art of Manliness - read the whole thing. This struck me:
"Perhaps most striking is the different way in which the two guides address the idea of good character. The original didn’t shy away from strong admonitions like, “It is horrible to be a coward. It is weak to yield to fear and heroic to face danger without flinching,” and “The honor of a scout will not permit of anything but the highest and the best and the manliest. The honor of a scout is a sacred thing, and cannot be lightly set aside or trampled on.”
In contrast, the modern version frames its discussion of character in terms of its inoffensive modern equivalent: leadership and personal development. Instead of being couched in the absolute language of moral virtue, doing the right thing becomes a matter or “making the most of yourself” and “getting along with others.”

Mayor: 35 killed in Texas fertilizer blast

WEST, Texas - Around 35 people, including 10 first responders, were killed in the Texas fertilizer company explosion, West Mayor Tommy Muska said in an interview with USA TODAY.

Those killed include five members of the West Volunteer Fire Department who were trying to put out the initial blaze, four EMS workers and an off-duty Dallas firefighter who pitched in to help, he said. Not all the bodies have been recovered but all are assumed dead, he said.

FBI website down - here are the bombing suspect images

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Officials' Bright New Idea: Fighting Terrorists By Taking Away Trash Cans

Indianapolis reacts to the Boston bombing:

The Indiana Pacers, after consulting with the Department of Homeland Security, will remove all trash cans outside of Bankers Life Fieldhouse for all events, said Greg Schenkel, vice president of public relations for the Pacers.

It's the athletic equivalent of making people take off their shoes before they get on a plane, and it's a lousy idea for pretty much the same reason.

via Reason.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day before yesterday was the day Marty McFly arrived in the future

If you happen to be the first person to make contact with aliens, here’s a handy guide

First Contact: Don’t F**k This Up For Us. via It's OK To Be Smart.

Why Are Monkey Butts So Colorful?

Popular Science takes on the tough questions.

When we read on dead trees, do we retain more?

This Is Your Brain on E-Books.

Interesting piece at Technology Review, discussing this:

Scientific American takes a look this week at the differences between reading on paper versus reading electronically, from a scientific standpoint. When we move from dead trees to ones and zeroes, do we retain the same amount of information? Does the text and its meaning penetrate as deeply? “The matter is by no means settled,” writes author Ferris Jabr. Nonetheless, there is evidence that indicates that e-reading fails to replicate the “intuitive and satisfying” ways of navigating through longer texts, and that “[i]n turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension.”

I agree with his conclusion, "But I readily concede that the next generation may read protestations like mine bemusedly; I do feel like an old man in my insistence that something is lost with the death of the physical book. I do appreciate the care that researchers are taking to quantify the benefits some feel in a physical culture of reading, even if they be few. We should have a firmer sense of just what it is we’re giving up, when we welcome all the conveniences of e-reading."

7th Circuit OKs $25K student-loan discharge for ‘destitute’ paralegal

At ABA Journal:

A "destitute" paralegal who has made reasonable efforts to repay her student loan debt is entitled to a bankruptcy discharge of the remaining $25,000 or so despite the fact that she never enrolled in a federal income-contingent repayment plan, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Reinstating a bankruptcy court's determination that Susan M. Krieger is entitled to the discharge and reversing a federal district court's decision to the contrary, the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the bankruptcy court had discretion to decide whether requiring Krieger to repay the student loan debt would be an undue hardship.

In a Wednesday opinion (PDF) authored by Judge Frank Easterbrook, the 7th Circuit also said that requiring Krieger to enroll in the income-contingent repayment plan as a show of good faith, was contrary to the purpose of bankruptcy law.