"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Monday, January 31, 2011

Pitchers & Catchers Report in Two Weeks


Change is Good

He should keep his day job. No, wait . . .


Please Say This at My Funeral

From our Department of Things We Wish We'd Written (But Didn't).


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Uh oh

The Associated Press reports: "Looters rip heads off 2 mummies at Egyptian Museum."

This will not turn out well.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

"What kind of guy would I be if I walked out when she needed me most?"


It Takes a Sense of Humor

Disgraced former Catholic priest to host talk show on Fox. And who can deny that "Father" Cutie has a "unique perspective"?


Friday, January 28, 2011

The Universe Confuses Us

Every time we see something like this, we're confused:
Using a powerful new camera on the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered what appears to be the most distant object ever observed, a small proto galaxy some 13.2 billion light-years away that dates back to just 480 million years or so after the Big Bang birth of the universe.

Here's why we're confused: how can something appear to be -- from our vantage point on Earth -- 13.2 billion light-years away, if the universe itself is only something like 13.7 billion years old? An object 13.2 billion light-years away took at least 13.2 billion years to get there since at the time of the Big Bang everything in the universe was in the same place, and nothing can travel in excess of the speed of light. But if it took 13.2 billion years to get so far away from us, and then the light from it took 13.2 billion years to get here, doesn't that consume more than 26 billion years? That is, more years than the number of years since the Big Bang?

We're serious. We're not actually playing snarky logic-puzzle games.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Famous Last Words

Whoosh: "The family opened doors and windows as they evacuated the house, hoping to control smoke damage."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Steampunk Palin

This exists. Our first reaction was, "Say what?" While our second reaction was, "Of course!" The Internet is a great seething cauldron of complex meme-molecules combining, re-combining, splitting, morphing. Some mutations are fatal, while others form sub-species, like Hitler Rants or Rickrolling, that show signs of immortality. In our view, steampunk reached its height as a science fiction sub-genre with The Difference Engine, by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. But on the Internet, no popular culture DNA is ever truly lost.


Our Felid Masters

He's referred to as "Almond" by his human servants, and they report that he's never left the maple tree where he was born seven months ago. Using standard mind-control techniques, he's arranged for a fellow named Ron Venden to bring him food. Ron also made him a little bed of straw up in the tree, twelve feet from the ground. The humans involved base their assertion that he stays up there on the fact that they've never seen paw-prints in the snow at the base of the tree. This, of course, ignores the well-documented ability of cats to teleport, moving from Point A to Point B without going through the intervening space.

It's unusual for there to be such a blatant and public exercise of power. It has long been cat policy to masquerade as lovable, harmless pets. Those few humans aware of the extent of their power, and who have glimpsed their real purpose in visiting Earth, are kept on a pretty short leash.

Reported in the Wisconsin State Journal.


Friday, January 21, 2011

"Have you got anything without Spam in it?"

Spam by the numbers for 2010:

89% of all email is spam;

90% of spam is in English;

88% of all spam is sent from botnets (networks of compromised PCs);

91% of spam contains some form of link;

2/3 of of all spam is related to pharmaceutical products;

Only 0.7% of spam is sent from webmail accounts;

1 in 284 emails contain malware;

1 in 445 emails are phishing emails;

As many as 95 billion phishing emails were in circulation in 2010.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Did Anyone Notice?

It seems to have escaped everyone's attention that the winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize just held an official state dinner to honor the jailer of the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

Well, almost everyone.

Can you say "fierce moral urgency?"


The Government They Deserve

Alexis de Toqueville almost certainly never wrote, "In a democracy, people get the government they deserve." Joseph-Marie, Comte de Maistre, probably did. It's a rather gloomy and cynical notion, and de Toqueville was neither. But gloomy though it may be, it seems inescapably true. Voters who cast their ballots for silly, ignorant candidates will get . . . silly Government.

So we ought not be surprised when a silly Member of Congress -- elected by silly, thoughtless voters -- opines on the Constitutionality of Obamacare and says silly things. Whether the Federal Government has the power to require every citizen to purchase health insurance is an interesting question. Around here, we tend to think it has no such power; to justify it as an exercise of the taxing power is cynical; to justify it as a regulation of interstate commerce is tricky; to justify it at all requires arguments that seem to us to have no natural or rational limit: if Congress can compel you to enter into this particular activity, then it's not at all clear that there exists any aspect of life that remains outside the power of Congress to regulate or compel.

But one might think that a Member of Congress, called upon to explain his thinking on this topic, could be expected to do better than this:

It is, of course, not the Constitution, but the Declaration of Independence that uses the phrase "pursuit of happiness." And it might be noted that it does so in the context of individuals being permitted to pursue happiness free of Government interference, rather than Government doing what it pleases in order to make folks happy. As for the Fourteenth Amendment, it seems odd to invoke "equal protection" to mean that the Government has the power to do anything it pleases so long as it tends to make everyone equal, and to make that "equality" a right.

Are we to understand that bald men have a right to Government issued toupees? Or, instead, that all men may be required to shave their heads in order to bring about equality? If you think that's silly (and it is) we can't wait to see your reaction to the Regulations promulgated pursuant to the Federal Anti-Obesity Act of 2015.

In a democracy, people get the government they deserve.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This is your mom . . . .

This is your mom on LSD:

Background HERE.


That Didn't Take Long

Remember how we were all going to tone down our political rhetoric? Remember that? Because -- even if Sarah Palin didn't personally shoot anyone -- we surely could all agree that crazy talk might make crazy people do crazy things. We're all adults, so we know that there's no way to stop some guy with a blog from writing "John Boehner Should Be Shot!" So that doesn't count.

But we're pretty sure that it counts when a Member of Congress explains that repeal of Obamacare -- an action probably favored by a majority of the House of Representatives, and certainly favored by more than a few voters -- is all about killing people. No. Really. I'm not making this up:

But wait! There's more! If you think that Obamacare was a "government takeover of health care," you're a Nazi!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


The Financial Times reports: "States Warned of $2 Trillion Pensions Shortfall."

Let's discuss Sarah Palin's new shoes.


Life is Simply Too Complex to Live

Bottled water is bad for you.

I'm getting a sort of "You have reached the end of the Internet" vibe from this story.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Nun Gazing

From the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, New Jersey, where the young women have been contemplating the snow:

Plainly not a discalced Order.


UPenn GRASP Lab Strikes Again

We've previously had occasion to remark on the very interesting work being done at the University of Pennsylvania's General Robotics, Automation, Sensing & Perception (GRASP) Lab. These are not radio-controlled toys; they move on their own, avoiding obstacles and accomplishing simple tasks without outside intervention. In this latest video, the little critters are provided with standardized building blocks, the desired resulting structure is defined, and they're turned loose.


Friday, January 14, 2011


The federal deficit is unsustainable.

Crude oil is $100/bbl.

The Federal Reserve is inflating the currency.

The unemployment rate is 9.1%.

Several large states are insolvent.

Let's talk about Sarah Palin.


Palate Cleanser

Via reddit.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Spelling Counts

From the Orange County Register:
ANAHEIM – Police were called Tuesday morning to investigate a report that "Kill THE CATHLICS!" was spray-painted on a wall near the entrance of St. Boniface Catholic Church.

About 7:15 a.m., police were sent to the church at 120 N. Janss St. regarding the incident on the west side of the church, police said.

The misspelled graffiti was expected to be removed Wednesday. Parishioners have been asking what happened, said Maria Alcala, a secretary at the church.

Alcala said police took an incident report and will review surveillance video to determine when the incident occurred and to see if they can determine who did it.
While there is as yet no evidence respecting the motivation and subjective intent of the artist, we blame Paul Krugman.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"The origins of Loughner's delusions are clear: mental illness. What are the origins of Krugman's?"

Charles Krauthammer gets it right again:
The charge: The Tucson massacre is a consequence of the "climate of hate" created by Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Obamacare opponents and sundry other liberal betes noires.

The verdict: Rarely in American political discourse has there been a charge so reckless, so scurrilous and so unsupported by evidence.

As killers go, Jared Loughner is not reticent. Yet among all his writings, postings, videos and other ravings - and in all the testimony from all the people who knew him - there is not a single reference to any of these supposed accessories to murder.

Not only is there no evidence that Loughner was impelled to violence by any of those upon whom Paul Krugman, Keith Olbermann, the New York Times, the Tucson sheriff and other rabid partisans are fixated. There is no evidence that he was responding to anything, political or otherwise, outside of his own head.

A climate of hate? This man lived within his very own private climate.


Finally, the charge that the metaphors used by Palin and others were inciting violence is ridiculous. Everyone uses warlike metaphors in describing politics. When Barack Obama said at a 2008 fundraiser in Philadelphia, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun," he was hardly inciting violence.

Why? Because fighting and warfare are the most routine of political metaphors. And for obvious reasons. Historically speaking, all democratic politics is a sublimation of the ancient route to power - military conquest. That's why the language persists. That's why we say without any self-consciousness such things as "battleground states" or "targeting" opponents. Indeed, the very word for an electoral contest - "campaign" - is an appropriation from warfare.

When profiles of Obama's first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, noted that he once sent a dead fish to a pollster who displeased him, a characteristically subtle statement carrying more than a whiff of malice and murder, it was considered a charming example of excessive - and creative - political enthusiasm. When Senate candidate Joe Manchin dispensed with metaphor and simply fired a bullet through the cap-and-trade bill - while intoning, "I'll take dead aim at [it]" - he was hardly assailed with complaints about violations of civil discourse or invitations to murder.

Did Manchin push Loughner over the top? Did Emanuel's little Mafia imitation create a climate for political violence? The very questions are absurd - unless you're the New York Times and you substitute the name Sarah Palin.
Read the whole thing.

[In the interest of full disclosure, Dr. Krauthammer's Washington Nationals season ticket seats are very close to those of your humble and obedient servant. We thus share a burdensome mental defect that may color our opinion.]

January 12

We can't shake the feeling that today has some special significance.  Oh well.  If it's important, it will surely come to us.  In the meantime, we'll just kick back and chill.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Thoughts on the mental state and motivation of Jared Loughner offered HERE.  For several reasons, this fellow's observations should be ignored:
  • He's a clinical psychiatrist with 30 years of experience, and thus entitled to an opinion;
  • His short article never once mentions Sarah Palin, and so is instantly irrelevant;
  • He uses bullet points, and so is plainly part of the problem.


Friday, January 07, 2011

End of Days

2011 is a prime number. It is also the sum of 11 (itself a prime number) consecutive prime numbers: 2011=157+163+167+173+179+181+191+193+197+199+211.

Can the End of Days be far behind?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

R.I.P. Anne Francis

January 2, aged 80.


"Women Laughing Alone With Salad"

Creepy.  Very, very creepy.



Two economists at the University of Leuven have published a paper showing a correlation between the cultural and historical rise of monogamy and the consumption of alcohol:  "Intriguingly, across the world the main social groups which practice polygyny do not consume alcohol."


Saturday, January 01, 2011

Get Off My Lawn

Happy 2011, the year in which the oldest baby boomers, born in 1946, turn 65.  Television, The Bomb, moon landings, coonskin caps, The Pill, feminism, the Viet Nam War, The Beatles, and much else are wholly-owned.

None of us got smallpox, few of us got polio.  We invented sex, and have since refused to agree on its rules.  Our men discovered facial hair; our women conceived leg hair.  During 1967's Summer of Love, some of us moved to San Francisco, where some of us remain preserved in amber.  For the first time in history, we perceived that our parents were neither omniscient nor omnipotent, so fuck them.  We celebrated non-conformity and established a dress code for it.

We don't go to church because our parents made us go when we were little.  For a while, we didn't shower or bathe for similar reasons, but then changed our minds (see, "we invented sex," supra).  We invented the Internet, personal computers, and Star Wars.  We know the difference between Dr. Spock and Mr. Spock.

You're welcome.  Those of you born after November, 1963, continue to send us money, we've spent everything Mom and Dad gave us.