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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

Must read Mark Steyn: Knockouts High and Low

Read the whole thing about the knock-out game and Harry Reid. Excerpts:

In free nations, self-restraint is required not only of the underclass but of the rulers, too. Harry Reid is an unlikely gang leader, but, for a furtive little rodent, he landed a knockout punch on America’s governing norms.

As a “continuing body” the Senate’s procedures are supposed to remain in force unless a two-thirds supermajority votes to change them. In this case, a 52–48 all-Democrat majority voted to change the rules, and so the rules have been changed. After all, who’s gonna stop Harry Reid? The Senate pageboys? Legislative majorities are here today and gone tomorrow, but legislative mechanisms are supposed to be here today and here tomorrow and here next year. If a transient party majority can change the rules on a single, sudden, party-line vote, then there are no rules. The rules are simply what today’s rulers say they are. After all, banana republics and dictatorships pass their own rules, too — to deny opposition politicians access to airtime, or extend their terms by another two or three years, or whatever takes their fancy.

As noted last week, the president knows no restraints either. He has always indicated a certain impatience with the “checks and balances” — “I’m not going to wait for Congress” has long been a routine applause line on the Obama ’prompter. From unilaterally suspending the laws of others (such as immigration), he has advanced to unilaterally suspending his own. So, for passing political convenience, he issued his proclamation of temporary amnesty for the millions of health plans he himself rendered illegal. The law is applied according to whim, which means there is no law. Four years ago, polls showed no popular support for anything as transformative as Obamacare. But, through procedural flimflam, lameduck-session legerdemain, threats to “deem” it to have already passed, and votes for a law whose final version was not only unread by legislators but was literally unreadable (in the sense that it had not yet rolled off the photocopier), through all that and more, the Democrats rammed it down the throats of the American people anyway: Yes, we can! Brazen and unrestrained, Obama and Reid are also, in Lewis’s phrase, “men without chests.” Cleverness, unmoored from Lewis’s chestly virtue of honor, has reduced them to mere tricksters and deceivers. So the president lied about his law for four years, and now lies about his lies.

Friday links

10 most expensive restaurants in the world.

Fine Art Superheroes.

40-Foot Hand-Carved Sculpture Earns Guinness World Record.

Moose-eating shark rescued.

The Addams Family’s Black and White Living Room Was Actually Pink.

What is the furthest one human being has ever been from every other living person?

ICYMI: Wednesday's links are here.

Fine Art Superheroes

Superman: Soaring Through a Starry Night.

Rembrandt vs. Joker:

Originals here and here.
Wonder Woman by DaVinci:

More at Worth 1000.

A Secret Cold War Bunker under Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge:

In 2006 a group of workers conducting their regular inspection found a secret vault in the foundations of the Brooklyn Bridge, near the East river shoreline. The supplies, almost 45 years old at that time, consisting of medicines, water containers, blankets and almost 350,000 packets of crackers were safely sealed in airtight containers. Some containers were marked 1952 while the others were marked 1962, the year of the Cuban missile crisis. The huge cache of food and medicine suggest that the government had prepared safety bunker at the basement of the bridge in case there was an invasion or attack from the Soviets, a common practice done by the civil defense agencies during the cold war period. In 1959, a federal report concluded that two hydrogen bombs dropped near the Brooklyn Bridge would kill at least 6.1 million people.

Graham T. Allison, a former assistant secretary of defense acknowledged that the shelters would have been ineffective in the event of a nuclear attack but said that the construction would have comforted the people and made them believe that they were doing something, even if it didn’t have any effect. So the construction of such structures were not new as in 1950, the city’s Office of Civil Defense, was formed to prepare for a possible atomic attack. In 1951, during the Korean War, floodlights and barbed-wire barriers were set up on and around the city’s bridges, as part of an overall civil-defense strategy aimed at deterring sabotage.

via TripTern and NatGeo.

The Addams Family’s Black and White Living Room Was Actually Pink

This is the original TV show Addams Family, of course - the movies and subsequent shows were in color.

The opening credits, set in the living room:

Reasons for the colorful set? Because the original Addams Family was filmed in black and white, the colors for some of the items simply didn’t matter – if they found an object that looked just right for the set but was colored baby blue, they could still use it. Another reason was the way that black-and-white film registers certain colors when shooting. In other black-and-white films, characters often had to wear strange shades of lipstick (like brown or green) to get the right shades to appear on black-and-white film. As such, many of the color choices on this strangely colorful Addams family set were probably deliberate.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Here's George W. Bush's painting of Jay Leno, presented last night

Bush presented this to Leno last night on the Tonight Show:

Part 1 of interview is here:

And Laura joined him later on:

Remainder of the interview is here (Part 3) and here (Part 4).

He discussed his low profile since leaving office in 2009: 
"I don’t think it’s good for the country to have a former president criticize his successor."

And had this to say:

“You have to believe in what you’re doing, first and foremost,” Bush said. “I relied upon my faith, my family helped a lot, and I had a good team around me, and did the best I could do. I’m also very comfortable with the fact that it’s going to take a while for history to judge whether the decisions I made are consequential or not and therefore, I’m not too worried about it, which I read some biographies of Washington, my attitude is if they are still writing about biographies of the first guy, the 43rd guy doesn’t need to worry about it.”

Wednesday links

Do serial killers really tend to be bed-wetters?

Post-apocalypse skill: How To Open A Can Without a Can Opener, plus bonus Buffy.

Incredible Balancing Acts and Tightrope Walking.

Brilliant, First-Ever Official Video for Like a Rolling Stone Is an Interactive Masterpiece.

The Animated History of the English Language.

Every Single Doctor Who Story, Ranked from Best to Worst.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here.

Paging Mark Steyn: Condom maker says N.H. is No. 1 in size

The kind of thing that'll make you sneak glances at your neighbors:

Nashua Telegraph: Companies love state-by-state lists based on their sales data because it produces easy publicity – you know, “The best places to live in America,” “Which cities love ketchup more than mustard?” and that kind of thing – but chances are that few will draw as much attention in the Granite State as one from Condomania, a website that sells condoms.

In a survey released Monday, it claims that based on the sizes of condoms bought through its website, New Hampshire has the biggest male genitalia of any state in the country. Massachusetts is No. 8, Vermont is No. 29 and Maine is No. 41.

Wyoming is dead last.

As for major cities, Boston comes in at a lowly No. 15, way below New Orleans (No. 1), Washington D.C. (2) and New York City (4).

There are so many jokes possible – many starting with “Live Free and ...” – that we’ll just end this story right here.

Post-apocalypse skill: How To Open A Can Without a Can Opener, plus bonus Buffy

Useful survival skill for upcoming apocalypses, zombie or otherwise:

Prepper Journal, via Geekpress.

That reminded me of the scene in Buffy (Season 5 - A New Man) where Riley says, "I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse." I couldn't find a clip of it, but I did find this:

and this list of averted apocalypses from Buffy and Angel:

Opening of Hellmouth by the Order of Aurelius
Possible use of nuclear missiles by Moloch
Opening of Hellmouth by the Master

All of humanity being incinerated by the Judge
World being sucked into Hell by Acathla
Possibly vampire supremacy on the world in the Wishverse by The Master and the Order of Aurelius, already effective on Sunnydale

Opening of Hellmouth by the Sisterhood of Jhe
Ascension of Richard Wilkins into Olvikan
Destruction of all human life by The Scourge and the Beacon

Opening of Hellmouth via the Sacrifice of Three
Creation of an army of human/demon cyborgs

Freezing of time by Gene Rainey
Opening of Dimensional Portals by Glory

Draining of the Earth's life energy by Willow

The death of all living creatures due to the loss of the Sun
The First's endgame: the possession of mankind en masse and the destruction of the Slayer line
Complete loss of free will to Jasmine

The release of Illyria's army of doom upon humanity
Destruction of the North American continent by the self-destruction of Illyria
Wolfram & Hart's scheduled Apocalypse

The Fall of Los Angeles
Opening a little Hellmouth by Tansy Fry and her new Order of Aurelius in Los Angeles
Earth being transformed into a demonic breeding farm by Myresto Mor
Destruction of the Earth dimension and creation of the Twilight dimension in its place
The destruction of the Seed of Wonder and the end of magic

Re-opening of dimensional portals by Wolfram & Hart's TinCan website
Reversion of Twilight by Severin, which would tear reality itself apart
Outbreak of a mystical plague caused by Whistler, Pearl, and Nash

I think I'm going to have to re-watch Buffy - it's been several years.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Glitches continue to plague ObamaPorn site

NSFW due to nature of fake news report.

Not The Onion (and tax dollars at work): HHS says study of marital fights indicates that wife needs to calm down

That background noise you hear is feminist heads exploding.  ;-)

HHS HealthBeat (November 19, 2013) You should go there, because there's an audio version of this (which may say more than the text below) and I can't figure out how to embed it.

Calm down

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

This isn’t about who wins the argument – but a study of hot marital fights indicates that when the wife calms down, the couples are more happy. Researcher Lian Bloch of the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology in Palo Alto found that in a study she did at the University of California, Berkeley. She looked at data that included recorded arguments by long-time husbands and wives.

“The marriages that were the happiest were the ones in which the wives were able to calm down quickly during marital conflict.”

Bloch says calm wives were able to look constructively for ways to deal with the emotions and talk about ways to solve the problems. Happiness didn’t change if the husband calmed down quickly.

The study in the journal Emotion was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Learn more at

HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Last revised: November 19, 2013

Jingle "Bells": Kmart’s Christmas ad stirs up controversy with men in boxers

Doesn't seem controversial to me...

This video will make you smile: Chance the dog had never been swimming before

via Neatorama.

Woman goes to visit mom's apartment in senior community, stumbles into orgy

After my father passed away, my mother moved to a gated senior community near my family. She's not in poor health by any means and moved because after we lost dad because she was lonely. The community has a lot of activities and really gives back in terms of aged, but able bodied and sharp volunteers. My mother goes twice a week to my son's elementary to read to the children and help the teachers with rote prep and paper work. It's nice to see her out and being active and she's become a lot more outgoing and light hearted since her move. Losing her husband of almost 47 years was tough but i'm glad she's found some joy and purpose. 

Here's the thing: my mom and her friends are sex fiends. Two weeks ago I popped over to drop off some fabric for a costume she is making for our son. I didn't think she'd be home. I was very wrong. As soon as I walked into the apartment I knew something was going on given the sounds of scrambling coming from the living room. I called out for her and my mom yells "JEN WHATEVER YOU DO, JUST STAY IN THE KITCHEN I WILL BE RIGHT THERE." She runs in wearing only a shirt and a very red face. I told her I thought she was out with a class and apologized for barging in unannounced. I peek out of the kitchen and see at least two females and at least one male scrambling to get clothes on and hide "stuff". I was flustered and made an excuse to get out as soon as possible. We both knew what was up. 

Mom called me later that night and apologized for me having to see that and suggested maybe from now on my husband and I call at least a half hour prior to "popping in". I agreed. Then mom asked me not to judge her and that she was "very happy" for the first time since dad passed.

via Fark.

Video: Remembering Gettysburg 150 Years Ago Today, from Sen Ted Cruz

Obama Recites Gettysburg Address, Removes "Under God". Plus Thucydides!

Today is the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's delivery of his few "brief remarks" at the dedication of the new national cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, only four or so months after the great Civil War battle there that emerged as "the high-water mark of the Confederacy." At the time, the final issue of the war was still in some doubt, and Lincoln received second billing to a lengthy speech by Dr. Edward Everett, then president of Harvard University and reputedly America's greatest orator. 

Everyone's familiar with the Gettysburg Address - didn't we all have to memorize it in grammar school? But in these troubled times, its mere 272 words remain well worth reading again. 

By the way, Garry Wills' brilliant study Lincoln at Gettysburg analyzes the Gettysburg Address in terms of its role in defining the ethos of our great nation for following generations, while also tracing the antecedents of Lincoln's argument and the structure of his peerless prose back to Thucydides' account of Pericles' 430 B.C funeral oration at the end of the first year of the Peloponnesian War. (Wills notes that despite the popular view that Lincoln generally preferred short, pithy utterances, the final sentence of the Gettysburg Address is 84 words long - almost a third of the whole.)

So, at WMAL:
WASHINGTON -- One nation under God? Under President Obama, maybe not so much.
In advance of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address (full text below), which President Abraham Lincoln delivered on November 19, 1863, filmmaker Ken Burns gathered every living President, along with several prominent members of Congress, celebrities and news media stars to deliver the address themselves. Burns edited the individual speeches into one final mashup that is available on the site, but he also provided the complete speech as delivered by each individual dignitary. 
Curiously enough, in his version of the speech, President Barack Obama's delivery contained an omission - in a line that every other celebrity delivered as "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom" (click here for proof of that), the President left out the words "under God."  
You can watch all of the speeches at
You can see the President's reading of the Gettysburg speech here - his omission is at the 1:35 mark:

Gettysburg Address full text:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any other nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here died that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we do this.  But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 

- Abraham Lincoln ("The Gettysburg Address," 19 November 1863)

(Remarks at the top of this post taken from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email.  Leave your email address in the comments if you'd like to be added to his distribution list.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Not The Onion: Vancouver bans doorknobs

The wise and forward-thinking powers that govern Vancouver's citizens have again been looking to the future. They have taken the concept of "universal design" and like a heroic football player going for a touchdown, "ran with it."

In all seriousness, starting on March 14, construction of new buildings and homes in Vancouver, Canada will be required to abide by regulations in the building code that say the doorknob, the "key" to opening and closing doors, is being phased out. A new rule has been added saying all doors and faucets in any new construction will be required to have levers.

The authors of this article seem to think it's a pretty spiffy idea:
Handicapped individuals and the aged in our population need ease of access just as much as the rest of the world. If you think about it, levers are easier to manipulate, especially if our arms are full of packages or our fingers are gnarled with arthritis.
"...making access to public buildings available to everyone and not a privileged few."
Although they aren't talking about only public buildings. No mention of whether or not big brother will allow you to have knobs on your kitchen cabinets.  

Good news - the new code is not retroactive, meaning homeowners can still buy doorknobs for their homes, if they want them. 

Oh, dear God: Horrendous header design of the day

From the Irish Times, apparently.  via @FelicityMorse

Must watch Barenaked Ladies music video - "Odds Are", with dinosaurs spewing from volcanoes! And zombies!

Watch full screen, then re-watch to read the crawl underneath.

Odds Are by Bare Naked Ladies:

Via Lenore Skenazy* at the excellent (and important!) Free Range Kids blog, who says, "Yes! Yes! Yes! Everything we’ve been trying to say for five years PLUS a tune. And zombies! And baby dinosaurs! This should SO be our theme song!!"

*I've given Lenore's book Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) to my kids/stepkids who have kids of their own.  I seriously recommend that you do your grandchildren a favor and do the same.  Want further recommendations?  Read the reviews.

Video of Sicily's Mt. Etna (Aetna in Latin) Volcano Erupting (plus extra video and links to information)

Etna means "furnace" or "chimney", from/through Phonecian/Greek - see the wiki link below.  Aetna Insurance, by the way, is the direct descendant of Aetna (Fire) Insurance Company, which was named after the volcano.

Reminded me of this:
Various accounts of Empedocle's death are given in ancient sources. His enemies said that his desire to be thought a god led him to throw himself into the crater of Mount Etna so that he might vanish from the world completely and thus lead men to believe he had achieved apotheosis. Unfortunately the volcano defeated his design by throwing out one of the philosopher's sandals.
More on Etna here (free on Amazon Instant video) and here (wiki).

Here's a decent shortish documentary on Etna:

And video of Etna blowing smoke rings:

via Breitbart.  More at CSM.  There are several youtube videos of eruptions that look pretty spectacular to me, but were smaller than the current one.

Monday links

The Indian Stream Republic--A Little Nation on the US-Canadian Border

Excellent Breaking Bad Season 5 Alternate Ending: Cranston wakes up from a bad dream with his wife from Malcolm in the Middle.

The History of Doctor Who as the Bayeux Tapestry.

Look up your first, or favorite, or current car in the Internet Movie Cars Database
a database of car appearances in films, with screen captures.

Advice on hair washing from the 12th and 17th centuries.

Manly Ways to Prepare Turkey.  Related: Screw Pumpkin Pie! Try These Turkey and Gravy Stuffed Donuts Instead.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here.

Advice on hair washing from the 12th and 17th centuries

A glimpse of Medieval life:

Mary Magdalene
14th century, Les Enluminures
How to Wash Your Hair, 12th century:
"After leaving the bath, let her adorn her hair, and first of all let her wash it with a cleanser such as this. Take ashes of burnt vine, the chaff of barley nodes, and licorice wood (so that it may the more brightly shine), and sowbread... with this cleanser let the woman wash her head. After the washing, let her leave it to dry by itself, and her hair will be golden and shimmering... If the woman wishes to have long and black hair, take a green lizard and, having removed its head and tail, cook it in common oil. Anoint the head with this oil. It makes the hair long and black."
~ The Trotula (12th century)
I've personally found the lizard conditioner to be a very effective coverup for graying hair.

And here's the updated version: How to Wash Your Head, 1612:
"You shall finde it wonderfull expedient, if you bath your head foure times in the yeare, and that with hot lee made of ashes. After which, you must cause one presently to poure two or three gallons of cold fountain water upon your head. Then let your head be dryed with cold towels. Which sodaine pouring downe of cold water, although it doth mightily terrifie you, yet nevertheles, it is very good, for therby the naturall heate is stirred within the body, baldnesse is kept backe, and the memory is quickened. In like manner, washing of hands often, doth much availe the eyesight."
~William Vaughan, Approved Directions for Health (1612)
From the always interesting Ask The Past.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ed Sec Arne Duncan: ‘White suburban moms’ upset that Common Core shows their kids aren’t ‘brilliant’

Read the whole thing.  Excerpts:

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told a group of state schools superintendents Friday that he found it “fascinating” that some of the opposition to the Common Core State Standards has come from “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”

The Common Core was designed to elevate teaching and learning. Supporters say it does that; critics say it doesn’t and that some of the standards, especially for young children, are not developmentally appropriate. Whichever side you fall on regarding the Core’s academic value, there is no question that their implementation in many areas has been miserable — so miserable that American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, a Core supporter, recently compared it to another particularly troubled rollout:
You think the Obamacare implementation is bad? The implementation of the Common Core is far worse.
New York was the first large state to implement the standards and give students new standardized tests supposedly aligned with the Core. Test scores plummeted earlier this year. State officials had predicted the scores would drop 30 percent — and that’s exactly what happened. (How they could predict that with such accuracy was addressed in a previous Answer Sheet post.) Opposition to the standards, both their content and their implementation, has been growing in New York (and other states) among teachers, principals, superintendents and parents, some of whom have refused to allow their children to take the exams.

Excellent ‘Breaking Bad’ Season 5 Alt Ending: was it all a dream? UPDATED new video source

Update - Youtube pulled the video - updated with a different source.

Bryan Cranston and Malcolm in the Middle’s Jane Kaczmarek star in this leaked ‘alternate ending’ from the Breaking Bad: The Complete Series box set, which will be released on November 26.