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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Excellent gallery: 20 Historic Black and White Photos Colorized

Japanese Archers circa 1860

‘Old Gold’, Country store, 1939
View from Capitol in Nashville, Tennessee
During the Civil War, 1864

Lots more, with originals and links, at Twisted Sifter.  Via @jpodhoretz.

Egypt: Obama's lofty, detached, dithering approach to foreign policy

He graciously pops in from the golf course to stroll blithely down the middle: all things considered, and balancing one hand against the other, Egyptians should sort out their own country nicely. What’s not to admire in that?

A lofty, almost surreal detachment from responsibility for outcomes defines the Obama administration’s foreign policy.

via @JonahNRO.

Jewell of Denial

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell—probably the last of Obama’s secretaries not involved in something mind-bogglingly stupid—just got herself involved in something mind-bogglingly stupid.

In a Department-wide address to Interior employees, she warned them that loyalty tests shall be given to eliminate those who do not worship the Democratic party.

No, just kidding. Instead, she did the exact same thing when she said: “I hope there are no climate-change deniers in the Department of Interior.”

Friday, August 16, 2013

Airman Relieved of His Duties for Objecting to Gay Marriage

A 19-year veteran of the Air Force said he was relieved of his duties after he disagreed with his openly gay commander when she wanted to severely punish an instructor who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality.

“I was relieved of my position because I don’t agree with my commander’s position on gay marriage,” Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk told Fox News. “We’ve been told that if you publicly say that homosexuality is wrong, you are in violation of Air Force policy.”

He said in essence, Christians are trading places with homosexuals.

Christians have to go into the closet,” he said. “We are being robbed of our dignity and respect. We can’t be who we are.”

Monk said he is scared to speak out – and understands that he could face severe penalties.

This Italian 'Adolf Hitler wine' has infuriated just about everybody

More info at io9: The winemaker responsible for this abomination, Andrea Lundardelli, claims the line is all in good historical fun. He says they started the historical series, which also features fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and Soviet chief Joseph Stalin, after it was requested by a customer.

Mark Steyn: Idiot Big Brother

On Thursday, the Washington Post’s revelation of thousands upon thousands of National Security Agency violations of both the law and supposed privacy protections included this fascinating detail:

A “large number” of Americans had their telephone calls accidentally intercepted by the NSA when a top-secret order to eavesdrop on multiple phone lines for reasons of national security confused the international code for Egypt (20) with the area code for Washington (202).


Meanwhile, in contrast to its accelerating irrelevance overseas, at home Washington’s big bloated blundering bureaucratic security state expands daily. It’s easier to crack down on 47 Elm Street than Benghazi.

Jonah Goldberg on intervening in the Middle East: To Hell With Them

The footage out of Egypt may be horrific, but I’d be surprised by any groundswell of sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Some paint all of this as part of a general isolationist or inward-looking attitude on the part of the American people. And lord knows that after so much American blood and treasure has been spilt since 9/11, nearly everyone is war-weary.

But there’s a simpler reason for American reluctance to intervene in the Middle East that plays a much bigger role in peoples’ attitudes about foreign policy. It can be summed up with the words “to hell with them.

Epic Chick Fight: 2 women reenact Family Guy’s famed chicken fight

And the original:

Star Trek Meets Monty Python

An oldie but goodie, via Nuking Politics:

Belmont: The unhappy state of the cities by the Potomac and the Nile.


Jackson Diehl at the Washington Post is thunderstruck by the abstracted, almost unreal atmosphere within the administration.
Incredibly, some officials close to Kerry were arguing in recent weeks that one reason not to designate Egypt’s coup a coup was to avoid dampening the Mideast “peace process” — whose prospects for success are invisible to all outside the administration, including the Israelis and Palestinians themselves. Never mind the burning city, goes the logic; we’ve got our hands full building this Potemkin village.
That Potemkin Village is called Narrativeville and lots of people inside the Beltway actually live in it. In that town all problems can be solved by sending off new talking points to Journolist to make reality conform to fiction. Except maybe this time it won’t happen beyond the remit of the Metro. The unaccountable refusal of reality to conform would puzzle many in Washington. But the last few weeks have been a story of two cities built by a river. One by the Potomac and the other by the Nile, each afflicted by its own brand of madness.
All the demands that America “do something in Egypt” are really preconditioned on one unstated assumption: that Washington itself knows what to do. That used to be a reasonable assumption. But perhaps it is not any more.

IG: Yeah, Obama screwed Delphi non-union workers, but there’s nothing we can do about it

Read the whole thing at Michelle Malkin:  Loyal readers have followed my coverage over the past three years on how President Obama’s UAW bailout threw tens of thousands of nonunion autoworkers under the bus. It’s the real-life horror story of some 20,000 white-collar workers at Delphi, a leading auto parts company spun off from GM a decade ago.
The Treasury Department opted not to restore the pensions of salaried Delphi retirees during the General Motors’ 2009 bankruptcy process because they had “no leverage” to hold up GM’s bankruptcy while union retirees did, according to a government watchdog report released Thursday.

Friday links

The First Sex Manual Published in North America, 1766 (SFW).

History of Britain in LEGO.

Strange and Gorgeous Houses Built on Rooftops.

Gallery of Fish Head Art. And here's a gallery of Babies Sucking on Lemons for the First Time.

Shooting your breakfast cereal: the history of the puffing gun.

Infographic: The Evolution of the Zombie.

Headline du jour: Elephant Snot not answer for cleaning damaged saguaros

Elephant Snot is out,” said Brad Shattuck, chief of maintenance for the park. “It was corrosive. On the two tests we tried, it did some cracking on the saguaro. So we stopped. Obviously, we want to clean the saguaros without hurting them.”

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lexicon Shift Alert: global warming gets yet another name change

The 2010 version:

The 2013 version:

Via Anthony Watts at Watts Up With ThatBack in 2010, I pointed out that White House science adviser John Holdren had made a shift in naming conventions for the twice renamed “global warming”

It seems that another shift in the lexicon has occurred, again at the White House. Organizing for Action, President Obama’s campaign machine declared Tuesday that there was a new name.

The Washington Times picked up on this shift, and I’ve updated the graphic to reflect the new name. There’s also a poll to choose/predict the next name after this one.

The doomed planet movement has been losing momentum. Inconvenient scientific findings have confirmed the lack of any significant warming of dear old Earth over the past 16 years. It’s hard to scare people into action when nothing bad is happening. That’s why the White House has changed its vocabulary again — first “global warming” was changed to “climate change” — and now the correct name of the scam is “carbon pollution.” It’s a way to paint carbon dioxide as if it were black soot billowing out of industrial smokestacks. Carbon dioxide is actually what humans exhale, and it’s food for plants.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Modernization in Iran: a new finger-amputation machine for use on thieves

Instead of an old-fashioned cleaver. (Insert Wally and The Beav jokes here)
Photographs appearing to show a blindfolded man having his fingers severed by the mechanical amputation device have been published by an official Iranian press agency. 
According to the INSA news service, the prisoner used to demonstrate the brutal contraption had been convicted of theft and adultery by a court in Shiraz last Wednesday.
The machine looks as if some guy made it in his back yard early in the last century.  More at The Telegraph.  (Non-graphic still images only)

Russian man reprinted bank's heavily one-sided credit card contract to make it one-sided the other way

When Dmitry Argarkov was sent a letter offering him a credit card, he found the rates not to his liking.

But he didn't throw the contract away or shred it. Instead, the 42-year-old from Voronezh, Russia, scanned it into his computer, altered the terms and sent it back to Tinkoff Credit Systems.

Tinkoff apparently failed to read the amendments, signed the contract and sent Mr Argakov a credit card.

"The Bank confirmed its agreement to the client's terms and sent him a credit card and a copy of the approved application form," his lawyer Dmitry Mikhalevich toldKommersant. "The opened credit line was unlimited. He could afford to buy an island somewhere in Malaysia, and the bank would have to pay for it by law."

However, Tinkoff attempted to close the account due to overdue payments. It sued Mr Argakov for 45,000 rubles for fees and charges that were not in his altered version of the contract.

Earlier this week a Russian judge ruled in Mr Argakov's favour. Tinkoff had signed the contract and was legally bound to it. Mr Argakov was only ordered to pay an outstanding balance of 19,000 rubles (£371).

"They signed the documents without looking. They said what usually their borrowers say in court: 'We have not read it',” said Mr Mikhalevich.

But now Mr Argakov has taken matters one step further. He is suing Tinkoff for 24m rubles for not honouring the contract and breaking the agreement.

Tinkoff has launched its own legal action, accusing Mr Argakov of fraud.

Oleg Tinkov, founder of the bank, tweeted: "Our lawyers think he is going to get not 24m, but really 4 years in prison for fraud. Now it's a matter of principle for @tcsbanktwitter."

The court will review Mr Argakov's case next month.

Infographic: The Evolution of the Zombie


Feel-good video of the day: compilation of clips of people saving animals

I can't figure out how to keep this from auto-loading, so it's available after the break:

The First Sex Manual Published in North America, 1766 (SFW)

Printed in Boston in 1766 (after first being published in England in 1684), it's titled Aristotle’s Complete Master-Piece, In Three Parts; Displaying the Secrets of Nature in the Generation of Man (find a copy online here).

The work—thought to have been written by a self-proclaimed English “Professor of Physik” named William Salmon—has, in fact, nothing to do with Greek philosopher Aristotle; his name provided the text with authority its true author lacked (such pseudepigrapha had been in fashion for ages). It was immensely popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite the fact that it may be the least prurient book about sex ever written, it remained the most widely circulated guide to sex and reproduction in North America until 1830.

Pregnancy out of wedlock could produce an infant covered in hair or Siamese twins:

Read more at Open Culture.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cartoon of the day

GQ has a cover story on RGIII

And the Lord said unto his flock in Washington, "Take this young man, this impossibly gifted quarterback, and watch him hoist your moribund franchise upon his shoulders and into the playoffs." And lo, it was good. Sweet Jesus, was it good. And then RG3's greedy head coach ran him into the ground and blew out his knee. But now the young quarterback has returned, and his followers are ready to rejoice again. But lo, they're terrified. Sweet Jesus, are they terrified. It's the blessing and the curse of Robert Griffin III, the joy that could turn to agony at any moment. People, can we get an amen?

RG3 and his mom have a long-running tradition. Every week during football season, normally on Thursday or Friday, he sits down in front of her and she braids his hair. "In the military, it was very important that you kept your appearance neat and tidy," says Jackie. "You don't want him to be all messed up. You want him to look nice and neat and putting his best foot forward.

Plus this:

See the Photos: RG3

Fidel Castro is 87 today

Warfare is a means and not an end. Warfare is a tool of revolutionaries. The important thing is the revolution. The important thing is the revolutionary cause, revolutionary ideas, revolutionary objectives, revolutionary sentiments, revolutionary virtues!
- Fidel Castro (speech, 18 October 1967, in memory of Che Guevara) 

The lamb... began to follow the wolf in sheep's clothing.
- Aesop (flourished ca 550 B.C.)  (Fables) 

I feel that my belief in sacrifice and struggle is getting stronger. I despise the kind of existence that clings to the miserly trifles of comfort and self-interest. I think that a man should not live beyond the age when he begins to deteriorate, when the flame that lighted the brightest moment of his life has been weakened.*
- Castro (attributed) 

Castro couldn't even go to the bathroom unless the Soviet Union put a nickel in the toilet. 
- President Richard Nixon (1913-1994) (interview, September 1980) 

Fidel Castro is right. You do not quieten your enemy by talking to him like a priest, but by burning him. 
- Nicolae Ceau┼čescu (1918-1989) (at a Communist Party meeting in November 1989**) 

The most honest, courageous politician I have ever met.  
- Reverend Jesse Jackson (b. 1941) (of Castro, during a 1984 visit to Havana) 

Today is the 87th birthday of Cuban communist dictator Fidel (Alejandro) Castro (Ruz) born in 1926 in today's province of Holguin, Cuba. Castro studied law at the University of Havana, later opposed the Batista dictatorship, and unsuccessfully attacked a Cuban army post on 26 July 1953. After his resulting imprisonment, he went to Mexico and founded the "26 July" movement that eventually toppled Batista in 1959. Soon thereafter, declaring himself a Marxist-Leninist, Castro allied with the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, repelled the U.S.-supported Bay of Pigs invasion (1961), resisted the still ongoing U.S. economic blockade, and figured materially in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.*** Yet, despite the international collapse of communism in 1989 and his turning over the reins of government to his brother Raul in 2008, he's still there, presiding over a corrupt and bankrupt economy only 70 miles south of Key West. Go figure. 

I well remember - as an M.I.T. undergraduate - the ecstatic welcome Castro was given in Cambridge on the occasion of his being invited to speak at Harvard in 1959 - something M.I.T. would never have done - at least not then. English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley once wrote,

"Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
Til they drop, blind in blood, without a blow,
A people starved and stabbed in the untitled field..."

* N.B. As they say, "Do as I say, not as I do..." 

** Within a month, Ceau┼čescu and his wife had been executed by the movement that overthrew communism in Romania. 

*** Now that was a scary experience. I was an M.I.T. grad student at the time, and the night the crisis came to a head - if memory serves correctly - my late wife and I were entertaining for dinner two old and dear M.I.T. friends - Bill Anderson and Charlie Dunford. While my infant twin sons slept nearby, we all wondered whether there'd be a tomorrow to wake up to. 

Castro and Nikita Khrushchev at the United Nations in 1960:

               Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev at the United Nations, 1960.

The above was taken from Ed's Quotation of the Day, available only via email. If interested in being added to his list, leave your information in the comments.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Rodeo Clown Banned for Life From Missouri Fair for Sassing the President

The entertainment during the bull riding contest featured a clown wearing a mask of Obama with an upside down broomstick attached to his backside. Spectators were asked if they wanted to see "Obama run down by a bull." Many in the audience responded enthusiastically.

Megan McCardle has a good article on problems with Fixing the Mandate From Hell

Read the whole thing: This isn’t just politically hard; it’s actually hard. There isn’t a lot of money to go around right now, and weak labor markets are going to magnify the cost of whatever decision you make. There haven’t been any easy solutions in health care for decades now, and the 30-hour rule is no exception.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Your tax dollars at work: First dog Bo is airlifted to Obama vacation home

Rooms have to be found for dozens of Secret Service agents, someone has to carry a selection of presidential basketballs, and of course the family dog needs his own state-of-the-art aircraft.

Bo, the president's Portuguese Water Dog, arrived separately on one of two MV-22 Ospreys, a hybrid aircraft which takes off like a helicopter but flies like a plane.

It was the first time the Ospreys have been taken on holiday by a US president.

More than 70 hotel rooms, each costing up to $345 (£220) a night, have been booked out for Secret Service agents, who took charge of luggage including two large mesh bags full of basketballs.

The Obamas are staying in Chilmark on the western tip of the island, an area that is dotted with multi-million dollar homes. The neighbours include actor Ted Danson and the singer Carly Simon.

On several previous visits the Obamas had stayed at the 28-acre Blue Heron Farm, but it has since been sold to Britain's most celebrated architect, Baron Foster of Thames Bank.

The president has therefore had to downsize to a $7.6 million, 5,000-square foot retreat on nine acres which is owned by a businessman friend from Chicago. It includes a basketball court.

As a result Mr Obama will be staying closer to public roads which will have to be closed as his motorcade heads for the golf course of bookshop.

The Martha's Vineyard Times newspaper warned residents to expect "extraordinary and lengthy up-island detours". Local officials also emailed residents, saying: "Anyone aggrieved by this closing should email or call the White House."

Amazon deal of the day - up to 77% off kindle books for students

There are a lot of excellent deals here.