Amazon Deals

New at Amazon

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Taxes on some wealthy French top 100 pct of income

(Reuters) - More than 8,000 French households' tax bills topped 100 percent of their income last year, the business newspaper Les Echos reported on Saturday, citing Finance Ministry data.

The newspaper said that the exceptionally high level of taxation was due to a one-off levy last year on 2011 incomes for households with assets of more than 1.3 million euros ($1.67 million).

President Francois Hollande's Socialist government imposed the tax surcharge last year, shortly after taking office, to offset the impact of a rebate scheme created by its conservative predecessor to cap an individual's overall taxation at 50 percent of income.

The government has been forced to redraft a proposed bill to levy a temporary 75 percent tax on earnings over 1 million euros, which had been one of Hollande's campaign pledges.

Singer Of National Anthem Forgets Words, Powers Ahead Anyhow

via Deadspin: This is every American's nightmare. In Canada, though, the crowd is less than surprised. They can't really sing it, either, to help our absent-minded performer — hell, it's kind of a tough song. She is left to improvise, and "A Star-Mangled Banner" is born. Land of the free, home of the brave, play hockey.

Iranian wizard charges $500 to make man invisible during bank robberies. (with mugshot)

Never trust strangers. That is something most of us were taught by our parents or guardians at an early stage of our life, especially if the stranger says he is a sorcerer who can turn you invisible whilst you rob a bank!

Unfortunately, for one man in Iran, he made the mistake of trusting a fake sorcerer who convinced him that he was invisible and could rob a bank safely. The man explained to the court that he had paid five million rials (just under £290) to a wizard imposter, who in return gave him a set of spells to tie to his arm. The fake sorcerer explained to him that the spells would make him invisible, and that he could then rob banks all he wanted.

The man’s ill-fated attempt to rob the bank started to go wrong after he entered the bank and started randomly snatching money from the hands of customers, before they decided to act quickly and overpower the ill-fated thief.

The man told the court, ‘I made a mistake. I understand now what a big trick was played on me.’

Via Fark.

Meet the Partisan Union Behind The Partisan Internal Revenue Service

Upon Barack Obama’s re-election, NTEU sent out the following press release:
NTEU Leader Applauds Obama Victory; Turns Immediate Focus to Upcoming Lame-Duck SessionWednesday, November 7 2012Washington, D.C.—The leader of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) today applauded the re-election of President Barack Obama.“NTEU supported the re-election of President Obama as being in the best interests of our country and of the dedicated men and women of the federal workforce,” said NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley. “NTEU is also pleased that so many of our candidates for Senate seats and our staunchest supporters in the House won their races.”NTEU’s efforts on behalf of President Obama and key candidates spanned the country. “Our 2012 election plan has been in place since the beginning of the year,” said President Kelley. “Many chapters and members were actively involved educating and organizing various types of activities around the country including candidate nights and volunteering for campaigns.”
According to, of the $571,812 given to House and Senate campaigns by NTEU’s PAC, a mere $24,000 went to Republican candidates.
With regard to NTEU’s total political expenditures for 2012, perhaps this graph helps explain NTEU’s partisanship more clearly:

Must read Mark Steyn: The Autocrat Accountants

There is a “president of the United States” and a “government of the United States,” but, despite a certain superficial similarity in their names, they are entirely unrelated, like BeyoncĂ© Knowles and Admiral Sir Charles Knowles. One golfs, reads the prompter, parties with Jay-Z, and guests on the Pimp with a Limp show, and the other audits you, bugs your telephone line, and leaks your confidential tax records.

If you believe this, there’s a shovel-ready infrastructure project in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

Obama’s Defenders: He’s Not Corrupt, Just Dishonest and Incompetent

They argue that President Obama is not corrupt, but rather that he is dishonest and incompetent. This was the defense (such as it was) of Obama and Clinton with regard to Benghazi. The Accountability Review Board, which sought to exonerate Clinton as much as possible, noted that the State Department was a complete mess under Clinton. Security requests were ignored, because Clinton didn’t take the time to understand what was going on in Libya. And the chain of command was difficult to discern, leading to total chaos within the department. In other words, Clinton, who seems to be planning a run for the presidency, is a dangerously poor executive with a shallow grasp of geopolitical realities.

And a similar defense has arisen from the left of Obama on the issue. Here is Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post claiming that Benghazi was brought about by incompetence and carelessness. And here is the New York Times editorial board trying to shift the conversation from Obama’s initial failure in Libya to his ongoing failure in Libya. Liberal “defenses” of Obama and Clinton paint a picture of two hopelessly unqualified leaders.

It doesn’t get much better from there. As Pete noted this morning, Obama’s former chief strategist David Axelrod defended his former boss by saying that the government has become so vast and unwieldy that Obama couldn’t possibly know what his own government was doing or why it was doing it. The fact that Democrats can acknowledge this while still planning to make the government larger and less accountable shows the ideological nature of their obsession with expanding the state at the expense of the people.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Men who are physically weak are more likely to more likely to support welfare state and wealth redistribution

Men who are strong are more likely to take a right-wing stance, while weaker men support the welfare state, researchers claim.

Their study discovered a link between a man’s upper-body strength and their political views.

Scientists from Aarhus University in Denmark collected data on bicep size, socio-economic status and support for economic redistribution from hundreds in America, Argentina and Denmark.

via Doug Ross.

Most Popular Baby Names of 2012

Neatorama: For the fourteenth year in a row, Jacob is America's most popular baby boy name - but there are new entries in the list as compiled by the U.S. Social Security Administration. Here are the most popular baby names in 2012:
  1. Jacob
  2. Mason
  3. Ethan
  4. Noah
  5. William
  6. Liam
  7. Jayden
  8. Michael
  9. Alexander
  10. Aiden
  1. Sophia
  2. Emma
  3. Isabella
  4. Olivia
  5. Ava
  6. Emily
  7. Abigail
  8. Mia
  9. Madison
  10. Elizabeth
As we mentioned above, Jacob has been champ for 14 years since 1999 ("Michael" held that title from 1959 to 1998). This is the second year Sophia came at number one for girl names. Liam cracked the top 10 for the first time, perhaps because of recent movies starring Liam Neeson.
The US Social Security Administration also released the names that underwent the greatest change in popularity from 2011 to 2012:
From Social Security's press release:
Many pop-culture naming trends appear in a popular feature of Social Security’s baby names website--the “change in popularity” page.  This year’s winners for biggest jump in popularity in the Top 500 are Major and Arya.
The fastest riser on the girls’ list may have been influenced by the popular cable TV series “Game of Thrones.”  Arya is the daughter of a leader of one of the Seven Kingdoms.  She also is an expert sword fighter, so doubt her influence on the popular names list at your own risk.   
For the boys, parents may associate Major with the military title.  Acting Commissioner Colvin added “I have no doubt Major’s rising popularity as a boy’s name is in tribute to the brave members of the U.S. military, and maybe we’ll see more boys named General in the future.”  You also might trace Major’s increase in popularity to a cable TV show.  “Home by Novogratz” is a popular home design show featuring Major Novogratz, the youngest son of designers Robert and Cortney.
The second fastest riser for boys was Gael, and for girls, Perla.  Both names most likely are on the rise due to the increase in the Spanish-speaking population in the United States.  Perla is the Latinized version of Pearl and is popular among Hispanic-Americans.  Gael’s popularity could be tied to Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal.

Supercut of Famous Movie Sunglasses

via Mary Sue.

Federal Court Slams Obama's Use of Recess Appointment Power (again)

It’s been a bad week for Barack Obama, and things just got worse. On top of the growing scandals over the I.R.S. targeting conservative groups and the Justice Department snooping on journalists, the president has just received a major constitutional reprimand from the federal courts over his dubious exercise of executive power.

According to the Constitution, the president must seek the “advice and consent” of the Senate when filling certain government positions. The president may only bypass this confirmation requirement in those rare cases where a temporary appointment is needed to "fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate." This is known as the president’s recess appointment power.

In a decision handed down Thursday morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled that Obama violated the Constitution by making a recess appointment to the National Labor Relations Board in 2010 when the Senate was not actually in recess. In an unprecedented move two years later, when the Senate was holding pro forma sessions for the precise purpose of denying him the lawful ability to make a recess appointment, Obama simply ignored this legal impediment and made four purported recess appointments anyway, including the addition of three members to the NLRB.

Home invaders stuffed homeowner into the closet where he stored his gun. Guess who got shot?

Daily Mail: The victim of an armed home invasion in Houston has turned the tables on the brazen intruders after they stuffed him into a closet that turned out to be the place where he stores his gun.

Police say it all started at around 2pm Tuesday when three men broke into a home in the 8200 block of Braeburn Valley Drive and assaulted the resident.

After a brief scuffle, the hapless perpetrators shoved the man into a closet, not knowing that there was a gun in there.

When the homeowner thought the burglars had left, he went downstairs, carrying his gun in case the suspects were still around, the Houston Chronicle reported.

On the first floor, the man confronted one of his assailant and the two exchanged gunfire, according to police.

The resident, who shares the house with his parents, escaped unharmed, but the armed suspect was much the worse for wear after being struck in the shoulder and leg.

He fled on foot down the street, but did not get far before he collapsed. His two suspected accomplices took off from the scene in a Chevrolet Tahoe.

New scientific study says people have grown dumber

Daily Caller:

The average intelligence level of a Victorian-era person was higher than a modern-era person, a European research team posits in a report published last week in the journal Intelligence.

The research flies in the face of current assumptions of the Flynn Effect, which states that basic intelligence levels — measured through IQ tests — have risen since the 1930s.

IQ tests have been criticized, however, for reflecting bias toward certain cultures and education levels, while reaction times to stimuli might reflect “true intelligence” — the shorter the reaction time, the smarter the person.

European researchers Michael Woodley, Jan te Nijenhuis and Raegan Murphy compared reaction times to stimuli between people in the Victorian-era and modern-era people between 1884 to 2004.

The Victorian-era is a period of British history between the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837 until her death in 1901.

In their study, the researchers found that reaction times have slowly increased over time.

“For men, the increase was found to be 183ms to 253ms; for women the increase was from 188ms to 261ms,” reported.

“The researchers claim this proves that people have grown ‘less clever’ over time,” wrote the publication, noting that a possible explanation for the decline is that smart people reproduce less than less intelligent people.

The Asterisk Presidency: use of the IRS's coercive power is the political equivalent of steroids

No one can deny that Barack Obama is a highly skilled politician, at least by the measure of election outcomes. His record is undefeated, save for an ill-advised 2000 primary challenge to an entrenched incumbent congressman. His 2008 presidential victory, after a fraction of a term in the U.S. Senate, was especially dazzling. It disproved those who said that Hillary Clinton was invincible, that a left-wing Democrat couldn't win, and that America wasn't ready for a black president.

No one can deny that Lance Armstrong and Mark McGwire were highly skilled athletes. But their accomplishments are forever tainted by their use of banned performance-enhancing drugs. The use of the Internal Revenue Service's coercive power to suppress dissent against Obama is the political equivalent of steroids. The history books should record Obama's re-election with an asterisk to indicate that it was achieved with the help of illicit means.

NYT imitates The Onion

Via Taranto, discussing the IRS news:

The Onion yesterday had a funny riff on the subject:
Amid mounting scrutiny . . . Obama supporter Jake Maynard reportedly devised a perfectly implausible explanation Thursday that frees the president from any blame. "Look, he's the President of the United States of America; how could he possibly be involved in or aware of every single high-level action taken by the prominent government agencies he oversees?" said Maynard, noticeably perspiring as he explained the completely illogical reason why the President of the United States will emerge from this week's scandals unscathed. . . . Maynard, whose voice quavered several times during his asinine explanation, ended his perfectly invalid defense of the president by stressing that this was all politics and that "none of this would even be happening if the president were someone other than Obama."
These are times that try satirists' skills, for the Onion barely scooped the editorialists of New York Times, who in today's paper make Jake Maynard's argument, only it's funnier by virtue of being intended in all seriousness:
For Senator Mike Lee of Utah, these incidents proved that the federal budget has to be cut even more deeply. "We need to return it to a simpler, more manageable government," he said, "because that's the only way that we're ever going to prevent things like this from happening."
There are no "things like this," beyond a coincidence of bad timing. But they do have one thing in common: when bound together and loudly denounced on cable television and in hearings, they serve to obscure the real damage that Republicans continue to do to the economy and the workings of government.

Excellent cartoons - Linus gets it

Someone sent these to me via email, and they're apparently done by this guy.  I can't find a site where he has them aggregated, though.

Dog picture of the day

Is this the greatest blog post ever written? Quite possibly

Economist Deirdre McCloskey, at the Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog, explaining why economic freedom is a pretty darn good thing (via Cafe Hayek):
But anyone who after the 20th century still thinks that thoroughgoing socialism, nationalism, imperialism, mobilization, central planning, regulation, zoning, price controls, tax policy, labor unions, business cartels, government spending, intrusive policing, adventurism in foreign policy, faith in entangling religion and politics, or most of the other thoroughgoing 19th-century proposals for governmental action are still neat, harmless ideas for improving our lives is not paying attention.

In the 19th and 20th centuries ordinary Europeans were hurt, not helped, by their colonial empires. Economic growth in Russia was slowed, not accelerated, by Soviet central planning. American Progressive regulation and its European anticipations protected monopolies of transportation like railways and protected monopolies of retailing like High-Street shops and protected monopolies of professional services like medicine, not the consumers. “Protective” legislation in the United States and “family-wage” legislation in Europe subordinated women. State-armed psychiatrists in America jailed homosexuals, and in Russia jailed democrats. Some of the New Deal prevented rather than aided America’s recovery from the Great Depression.

Unions raised wages for plumbers and auto workers but reduced wages for the non-unionized. Minimum wages protected union jobs but made the poor unemployable. Building codes sometimes kept buildings from falling or burning down but always gave steady work to well-connected carpenters and electricians and made housing more expensive for the poor. Zoning and planning permission has protected rich landlords rather than helping the poor. Rent control makes the poor and the mentally ill unhousable, because no one will build inexpensive housing when it is forced by law to be expensive. The sane and the already-rich get the rent-controlled apartments and the fancy townhouses in once-poor neighborhoods.

Regulation of electricity hurt householders by raising electricity costs, as did the ban on nuclear power. The Securities Exchange Commission did not help small investors. Federal deposit insurance made banks careless with depositors’ money. The conservation movement in the Western U. S. enriched ranchers who used federal lands for grazing and enriched lumber companies who used federal lands for clear cutting. American and other attempts at prohibiting trade in recreational drugs resulted in higher drug consumption and the destruction of inner cities and the incarcerations of millions of young men. Governments have outlawed needle exchanges and condom advertising, and denied the existence of AIDS.

Germany’s economic Lebensraum was obtained in the end by the private arts of peace, not by the public arts of war. The lasting East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere was built by Japanese men in business suits, not in dive bombers. Europe recovered after its two 20th-century civil wars mainly through its own efforts of labor and investment, not mainly through government-to-government charity such as Herbert Hoover’s Commission or George Marshall’s Plan. Government-to-government foreign aid to the Third World has enriched tyrants, not helped the poor.

The importation of socialism into the Third World, even in the relatively non-violent form of Congress-Party Fabian-Gandhism, unintentionally stifled growth, enriched large industrialists, and kept the people poor. Malthusian theories hatched in the West were put into practice by India and especially China, resulting in millions of missing girls. The capitalist-sponsored Green Revolution of dwarf hybrids was opposed by green politicians the world around, but has made places like India self-sufficient in grains. State power in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa has been used to tax the majority of farmers in aid of the president’s cousins and a minority of urban bureaucrats. State power in many parts of Latin America has prevented land reform and sponsored disappearances. State ownership of oil in Nigeria and Mexico and Iraq was used to support the party in power, benefiting the people not at all. Arab men have been kept poor, not bettered, by using state power to deny education and driver’s licenses to Arab women. The seizure of governments by the clergy has corrupted religions and ruined economies. The seizure of governments by the military has corrupted armies and ruined economies.

Industrial policy, from Japan to France, has propped up failing industries such as agriculture and small-scale retailing, instead of choosing winners. Regulation of dismissal has led to high unemployment in Germany and Denmark, and especially in Spain and South Africa. In the 1960s the public-housing high-rises in the West inspired by Le Courbusier condemned the poor in Rome and Paris and Chicago to holding pens. In the 1970s, the full-scale socialism of the East ruined the environment. In the 2000s, the “millennial collectivists,” Red, Green, or Communitarian, oppose a globalization that helps the poor but threatens trade union officials, crony capitalists, and the careers of people in Western non-governmental organizations.

Yes, I know, you want to reject all these factual findings because they are “right-wing” or “libertarian.” All I ask you to do is, once in a while, consider. Don’t believe everything you read in the papers.

Taranto on Bulworth: Obama’s bizarre movie idol.

WSJ: A New York Times story on President Obama's plague of scandal contains this eyebrow-raising revelation:

Yet Mr. Obama also expresses exasperation. In private, he has talked longingly of "going Bulworth," a reference to a little-remembered 1998 Warren Beatty movie about a senator who risked it all to say what he really thought. While Mr. Beatty's character had neither the power nor the platform of a president, the metaphor highlights Mr. Obama's desire to be liberated from what he sees as the hindrances on him.

"Probably every president says that from time to time," said David Axelrod, another longtime adviser who has heard Mr. Obama's movie-inspired aspiration. "It's probably cathartic just to say it. But the reality is that while you want to be truthful, you want to be straightforward, you also want to be practical about whatever you're saying."

Perhaps the Times didn't want to spoil the film for its readers--which we are about to do, so please skip the subsequent four paragraphs if you're planning on seeing it and want to be surprised. But the Times's description comes nowhere near doing justice to the film and Beatty's character--and to how strange it is that it is the object of a presidential fantasy.

"Bulworth" is a satire about a politician going through something of a midlife crisis. Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth, a veteran Democrat from California, is a radical leftist at heart, but the exigencies of electoral politics have required him to pose as a moderate. He's up for re-election and running behind a young challenger. His marriage is on the rocks.

Depressed and suicidal, he offers a favorable vote to an insurance company in exchange for a bribe--a $10 million life policy with his daughter as beneficiary. Of course the policy is void if he takes his own life, so he hires a hit man to assassinate him instead.

He drinks heavily, and the combination of alcohol and imminent death has a disinhibiting effect. He begins speaking his mind at campaign events. Then he begins rapping his mind. We're not making this up: "Yo, everybody gonna get sick someday / But nobody knows how they gonna pay / Health care, managed care, HMOs / Ain't gonna work, no sir, not those / 'Cause the thing that's the same in every one of these / Is these m-----f---ers there, the insurance companies! . . . Yeah, yeah / You can call it single-payer or Canadian way / Only socialized medicine will ever save the day! Come on now, lemme hear that dirty word--SOCIALISM!"

Jonah Goldberg: An Agency after Obama’s Own Heart

Yes, it’s extremely unlikely he ordered the IRS to discriminate against tea-party, pro-life, or Jewish groups opposed to his agenda (though why anyone should take his word for it is beyond me). And his outrage now — however convenient — is appreciated. But when people he views as his “enemies” complained about a politicized IRS, what did he do? Nothing.

Imagine for a moment if black civil-rights organizations, gay groups, or teachers’ unions loudly complained to members of Congress and the press that the IRS was discriminating against them. How long would it take for the White House to investigate? Answer honestly: Minutes? Hours? Okay, maybe days if there was an attack on one of our embassies that the administration was busy ignoring. Obviously, it would take longer for Obama to actually get to the bottom of the accusations and, if they’re true, punish those responsible. But you can be sure that the moment he heard credible allegations of political persecution of liberal groups — outfits with “progressive” or “civil rights” in their names — he would have moved heaven and earth to make things right. 

But when such allegations came from the right, the response from the president — and from a press corps that until recently acted like a king’s guard — ranged from smirks and eye-rolling to flat-out lies and virtual applause.

Friday links

21 Ridiculous Wedding Dresses.

What Did People Use Before Toilet Paper? Vaguely related alliterative item: Poop Prevalent in Public Pools, CDC Says.

DIY dialysis, anyone? 10 Unbelievably Cool Homemade Creations

Three times a week, Hu Songwen sits on a small toilet in his home in a rural east China town and fires up his homemade dialysis machine. Hu, who suffers from kidney disease, made it from kitchen utensils and old medical instruments after he could no longer afford hospital fees. He has kept himself alive for 13 years using his machine.

And here's a homemade Rolls Royce.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mysterious Poop Foam Causes Explosions on Hog Farms

Mother Jones: starting in about 2009, in the pits that capture manure under factory-scale hog farms, a gray, bubbly substance began appearing at the surface of the fecal soup. The problem is menacing: As manure breaks down, it emits toxic gases like hydrogen sulfide and flammable ones like methane, and trapping these noxious fumes under a layer of foam can lead to sudden, disastrous releases and even explosions. According to a 2012 report from the University of Minnesota, by September 2011, the foam had "caused about a half-dozen explosions in the upper Midwest…one explosion destroyed a barn on a farm in northern Iowa, killing 1,500 pigs and severely burning the worker involved."

And the foam grows to a thickness of up to four feet—check out these images.

Read the whole thing at Mother Jones.

Must read: Get Up Off The Floor

Definitely read the whole thing:  Sarah Hoyt, author and occasional substitute blogger at Instapundit has advice for "those of you who are, at heart, constitutionalists, but who say “it’s all over, give up, they’ve won." (Emphasis mine)

Get up off the floor. First, if you’re a believer, despair is a sin. And if you’re not a believer, despair is spitting on the graves of all the men and women who fought in much worse conditions than you face. The ghosts of Tiananmen Square rise up against you. The men who in the Gulags carried a hope of freedom accuse you. The victims of communism point fingers at you. The millions of dead at the hands of marching statism would like to remind you that to give up is to die. And that’s when you should give up. Not a second earlier.

But worse than that – despair is a sin and an insult on the brave dead… And it might be stupid too.

You’re going to point to the fact that the left – Marxists – control education and that even in Europe, even in countries that suffered under communism, they think socialism is great. This is because the left has education and the history books have been revised. I can tell you having been raised in Europe that people are taught to equate capitalism and monarchy, and all the crimes of monarchy are ascribed to capitalism, and socialism/communism is opposed to this.

Here is the problem for them, though – socialism doesn’t work. As Thatcher said, sooner or later you run out of other people’s money. They are. Yes, there will be fire and blood, but at the end of it there just might be sanity. Voices that point out that communism/socialism in their end result are much closer to monarchy than capitalism ever was are needed. People who hold aloft the ideals of individual liberty are needed. It’s not time to fall on your sword, yet. It might never be, because…

Yes they control the education system in most of the world. But education is already getting hit with the same sort of catastrophic change that hit publishing. I’ve seen the signs. I’ve seen the middle class kids who are home/online schooled up to the last two years, then go to school the last two years, just to establish records for college entrance. In ten years we’ve come this far. In another three or four, things will come tumbling down. And it will be sudden, as it’s been for publishing.

They have mass media. Yes, indeed they do. But we have a million voices rising up in protest. We might each be tiny pebbles in an endless lake, but we ripple… More importantly, we have the ability to tell stories that subtly propagate different world views. The uniform lie has broken. There is no “what everybody thinks.” They’re shouting really loudly through the remaining channels to give the impression they’re winning. But the mirror has cracked from side to side and their doom has come upon them. They know it. That’s why they try to sound so confident and secure.

They are not. Hollywood has the money and the great effects, but it is running out of ideas, and it shows in the endless remakes. And the tech will catch up with them too. They’re next, after education.

They have vote fraud – yes, they do – but even in Wisconsin where they had instituted the same rules they’re putting in in Colorado, if the people get riled enough, there isn’t enough fraud to wash that away. Let’s get the recall going, and if that fails volunteer to watch the polls. If nothing else, be vocal about what happened afterwards. Daylight is a disinfectant.

They have the government. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, that’s a booby prize. The new technologies are personalized, individualized, mobile. And more so every year. Their model works best on a unified society where the technologies are best used to serve/talk to/control millions. When they try it on a modern society, not only doesn’t it work, it fails spectacularly.

They belong to the past. We? We’re from liberty and we carry it with us. We’re from the future, and we’re headed there. And despite brief disgusting localized intervals where it goes the other way, the future is always better than the past.

Besides, in the long run? Guess who is reproducing? Oh, yes, we’re buying a lot of low-skill, low-ability-to-survive babies. But low ability to survive is low ability to survive. Remove the support system, and that population will either break out of learned helplessness (my bet) or become much smaller.

Meanwhile, the responsible people who have strong beliefs about individual freedom (many of whom are religious) are having more kids than just about anyone else and, more importantly, raising them to be responsible people with strong beliefs about individual freedom. This is because these people have hope for the future. Thinking we’re all going to die screaming doesn’t encourage anyone to make babies. And thinking you need someone to hold your hand all through life doesn’t either.

TaxProf: The IRS Scandal, Day 6

Good roundup here.

What Did People Use Before Toilet Paper?

First of all, my favorite quote on the subject, from Lord Chesterfield's Letters to His Son (to his illegitimate son, that is; he (Chesterfield) was trying to raise him (the son) above his (the son's) lowly origins and inferior blood):
"I knew a gentleman, who was so good a manager of his time, that he would not even lose that small portion of it, which the calls of nature obliged him to pass in the necessary-house; but gradually went through all the Latin poets, in those moments. He bought, for example, a common edition of Horace, of which he tore off gradually a couple of pages, carried them with him to that necessary place, read them first, and then sent them down as a sacrifice to Cloacina*: this was so much time fairly gained; and I recommend you to follow his example. It is better than only doing what you cannot help doing at those moments; and it will made any book, which you shall read in that manner, very present in your mind. Books of science, and of a grave sort, must be read with continuity; but there are very many, and even very useful ones, which may be read with advantage by snatches, and unconnectedly; such are all the good Latin poets, except Virgil in his "AEneid": and such are most of the modern poets, in which you will find many pieces worth reading, that will not take up above seven or eight minutes. 
At Mental Floss: Using the bathroom has come a long way from when ancient Greeks used stones and pieces of clay for personal hygiene. Toilet paper is one of those things that often gets taken for granted in modern times, except for places Charmin has yet to infiltrate. This is definitely one of those unavoidable things in life, so through many centuries and in many cultures, everyone had their own method of staying clean. 

I like this bit: Quilted Northern, formerly Northern Tissue, advertised as late as 1935 that their toilet paper was “Splinter-Free!” Since the company is still big in the multiple-ply, multi-billion dollar industry today, the marketing plan must have been a success – splinter-free was obviously in very high demand.

Ten Things Romans Used for Toilet Paper.

*From Wikipedia: In Roman mythology, Cloacina (Latin, cloaca: "sewer" or "drain") was the goddess who presided over the Cloaca Maxima ("Great Drain"), the main trunk of the system of sewers in Rome.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Oops - it wasn't just the IRS.

Not only were the IRS, ATF, and FBI now in our lives, but OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] and a governmental environmental entity started auditing us in surprise visits as well.

I love this headline: ABC News Mother's Day shooting in New Orleans spoils parade tradition

From the geniuses at Reuters.

Adidas Unveils New Running Shoe For Fleeing From Mass Shootings

NEW YORK—With the launch Tuesday of a massive nationwide ad campaign, athletic footwear manufacturer Adidas has officially unveiled the Adidas Bystander, the first shoe designed for running away from a mass public shooting. “From its reinforced tread engineered specifically for running in a zigzag pattern to its whisper-quiet, low-squeak rubber, the Bystander combines speed and stealth to create the perfect shoe for escaping or hiding from an armed murderer,” Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer said at a press conference. “And its brand-new Firmo-Grip sole minimizes slippage, even when you’re panicked and need to move quickly through puddles of freshly spilled blood. No shoe has ever been better suited for today’s running, crouching, and cowering needs.” The shoes, which go on sale at the end of the month, will be available for wearers as young as 5.

Venture Capital In Medical Innovation Declines

A measure in the president's new budget that would reduce the data protection period provided to new biologic therapies — a complex class of medicines that has delivered breakthrough treatments for everything from cancer to childhood genetic disorders to anthrax. The president wants to scale back the existing period from 12 to seven years.

Elsewhere, the administration has proposed limiting the ability of brand-name drug manufacturers and generic competitors to settle patent disputes through out-of-court settlements.

Both policies take direct aim at the intellectual property protections that provide investors with the confidence and predictability needed to support medical innovation.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Doctor Kermit Gosnell found guilty of murdering infants in late-term abortions

A Philadelphia doctor was found guilty Monday of murdering three babies born alive in an abortion clinic, Fox News confirms. He was acquitted in the fourth baby's death, and found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the overdose death of an adult patient.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mick Jagger demanded penis apology from Keith Richards as 'prerequisite' to Rolling Stones reunion

Weird. Mick Jagger has revealed that receiving an apology from Keith Richards for his infamous penis slur was a "prerequisite" to The Rolling Stones going on tour again.

In his 2010 autobiography Life, Richards wrote of his bandmate: "Marianne Faithfull had no fun with his tiny todger. I know he's got an enormous pair of balls, but it doesn't quite fill the gap."

This Surgery Cake Emulates the Look of an Open Intestinal Operation