"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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cruising the Countryside


Independent Dependence

We assume our readers are intelligent enough to sigh and roll their eyes when the news media serve up the day's portion of debt-default horror. Will the Marines in Afghanistan get paid? Will great-grandmother be turned out of the nursing home? It's odd (not really) that the "nightmare" is never couched in terms of shuttering the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Transportation.

What's more interesting to us is just exactly what the spirit of the times considers to constitute the unthinkable. Which brings us to a standard, throw-away story posted today by CNN titled "Seniors: We need our Social Security!" It's the usual but, for some reason, this popped out for us:
For some, a loss of Social Security income could mean a loss of independence.

Charles Tanner moved to an apartment near his daughter's home in Lexington, Ohio, after his wife died. It's important to the 81-year-old former welder to live on his own.

But if he stops receiving his $1,400 Social Security check, he doesn't know how he'll be able to pay the rent in coming months. That means he'd have to move in with his daughter.

"It would be a sorry day if it happens," said Tanner.
Which is to say that here in the fantasyland we've built, among the disasters ranking with war, pestilence, and volcanic eruption is . . . dependence on one's family; more specifically, an elderly father becoming dependent on his grown children. Those would be the children who, decades ago, he worked to clothe, feed, educate, and protect, and launch into adulthood.

To be dependent on a faceless, soulless bureaucratic Government is to be "independent," while to rely on one's family is to be shamed and "dependent."



Welcome to my world

No, we don't do protein bars here and, yes, we've taken care of defensive weaponry.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

"We are getting our children through education by anaesthetising them."


Friday, July 29, 2011

More Debt Crisis Fallout

Bullshit market plunges.

From Mashable, via Iowahawk.




Please Give


Thursday, July 28, 2011



The highest form of patriotism

Remember back in the halcyon days when George W. Bush was President, and there was nothing too outlandish, too extreme, too grotesque that it couldn't be said about him? At the time we were told that "dissent is the highest form of patriotism."

We certainly welcome the end of those days (if not the end of days). Now, apparently, dissent -- that is disagreement with the President -- is not only not "the highest form of patriotism," but it's downright dangerous and anti-democratic. According to no less an authority than the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee:
Aren’t we at the point where the closer we get to chaos, the more concern that there should be about coming to the table and compromising with Democrats? This is not leadership. This is almost like dictatorship. I know they want to force the outcome that … their extremists would like to impose. But they are getting ready to spark panic and chaos, and they seem to be OK with that. And it’s just really disappointing, and potentially devastating.
She forgot racist. It's also racist to disagree with the President.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

DIY Projects

Replace the kitchen faucet? Check.
Paint the porch? Check.
Re-tile the bathroom? Check.
Fix the window-screens? Check.
Surgically repair hernia with butter-knife? Wait, what?

Before any do-it-yourself project, it's wise to consult an expert:
"It is absolutely impossible for someone to fix their own hernia," said Sam Carvajal, a surgeon at Glendale Adventist Medical Center.


"It was a dark and stormy night . . . ."

And we have a winner of this year's Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, Sue Fondrie, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh:
Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.
Oh, my. The Bulwer-Lytton contest challenges entrants to compose horrid opening sentences of imaginary novels, and takes its name from the 19th century novelist who famously began "Paul Clifford," with the immortal words, "It was a dark and stormy night."

The first link above will take you to the complete list of category winners, dishonorable mentions and so forth. We confess a fondness for the winner in the "Romance" category:
As the dark and mysterious stranger approached, Angela bit her lip anxiously, hoping with every nerve, cell, and fiber of her being that this would be the one man who would understand—who would take her away from all this—and who would not just squeeze her boob and make a loud honking noise, as all the others had.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The King's Speech

As Bill Kristol has observed, last night's speech continued the President's breathtaking condescension to the American electorate. But we don't want to talk about that here.

And others have noted that the speech was laced with poll-tested words and phrases rather than substance. But we don't want to talk about that, either.

The theme of the President's speech was compromise (a word that he used six times, by our count). And that's fair enough. But -- respecting the matter of compromise -- we found this paragraph downright bizarre:
America, after all, has always been a grand experiment in compromise. As a democracy made up of every race and religion, where every belief and point of view is welcomed, we have put to the test time and again the proposition at the heart of our founding: that out of many, we are one. We’ve engaged in fierce and passionate debates about the issues of the day, but from slavery to war, from civil liberties to questions of economic justice, we have tried to live by the words that Jefferson once wrote: “Every man cannot have his way in all things -- without this mutual disposition, we are disjointed individuals, but not a society.”
While we think that the matter of slavery in the United States is certainly an instance of a "fierce and passionate debate," it seems rather an odd historical example to cite in support of the proposition that "America, after all, has always been a grand experiment in compromise."

There was very little "compromise" at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Everyday Physics Lessons (Ballistics)


Organic Farmer Arrested in Norway Terror Attacks

That's as good a headline as any, as Get Religion points out in a piece titled, "The Atlantic has this terrorist all figured out."

I saw his Facebook page before it was removed. It had only been started a few days ago and featured a professional headshot, no friends and a listing of YouTubes featuring some of his favorite classical and trance music. In his “information” section, it included a list of his favorite books and influences, including Swedenborgian philosopher William James and the books On Liberty, 1984, The Trial, War and Peace, The Iliad and The Odyssey, Critique of Pure Reason, The Prince, Wealth of Nations, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Leviathan, The Divine Comedy and The Republic. On Facebook, he self-identified as Christian and conservative.

In this lengthy listing (49 pages) of writings the alleged shooter posted to a message board, there’s a paragraph or two devoted to his religious views. We learn that he’s a Protestant (of his own “free will”) who wishes that the Church of Norway would just convert back to Rome, he dislikes priests who wear jeans and support Palestinians, and that he thinks the modern church is dying. We know from other evidence that he is a Freemason.

Meanwhile, the deputy police chief announced that the shooter was a “Christian fundamentalist” but no one has reported either the evidence for the claim or how the police determined that. Whatever the case, he may be the only Freemason, Rome-leaning, Protestant fundamentalist in the world.

We know much more about his politics, I guess, although I find some of his positions there to be just as incongruous. He was anti-Marxist, anti-Nazi, pro-Israeli, anti-multicultural. He vehemently opposed Norway’s immigration policies but thought that the far right groups in Norway were racist.

So. Who takes these views and thinks that a good way to advance them is to kill 80+ children? I’m not sure we have a satisfactory answer.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Why am I not surprised?


Friday, July 22, 2011

Light a Candle


Perspective, people; let's retain some perspective.


That's not a bug, that's a feature!

With several thousand all-electric Nissan Leaf cars now on the road, we were interested to see this survey data released by the company. Among the revelations: "Leaf owners drive less than 60 miles a day."

Which is a really good thing, since the car's range is only about 73 miles.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Debt Ceiling Debate Simplified

It's really quite simple: Republicans won't compromise with the President because . . . well . . . because he's black. I'm glad that's settled.

Two Stories That Are The Same Story

First up: During what should have been a routine interview, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel bristles [bridles? freaks?] when asked where he expects to send his children to school:
My children are not in a public position. . . . I am. You’re asking me a value statement and not a policy. … No, no, you have to appreciate this. My children are not an instrument of me being mayor. My children are my children, and that may be news to you, and that may be new to you . . ., but you have to understand that I’m making this decision as a father.
I'll never understand why politicians don't answer this question by saying, "They'll be going to a private school. Because of my position, I have privacy and security concerns that I think are better able to be addressed, with less collateral disruption, in a private school."

Actually, I lied. I know why politicians like Mayor Emanuel don't say that -- because they know that they're going to send their kids to a private school because they can get a better education there than they would get in the crappy public school provided for your kids by . . . . Mayor Emanuel. Hypocrisy and shame are the tribute that vice pays virtue.

Here's the tape:

View more videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com.

Meanwhile, we learn that while the rest of us should be careful about our carbon footprint, Mrs. Obama will next week be jetting to Aspen for the day, to attend a political fundraiser.

These two items are the same story. In both instances, members of our governing class simply ignore their own directions to the rest of us.

In the meantime, I'll turn down my thermostat when Mrs. Obama quits spewing more carbon dioxide in one day than I'll likely be responsible for in a lifetime.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why is This Man Gay?

I've seen this commercial for travel-facilitator Expedia several times and, each time, I am struck not by the fabulosity of their proffered services, but by the mincing, lisping, precious "boss" character.  I have no idea if the target audience is supposed to know that this fellow is Tim Gunn, described by Wikipedia as
. . . an American fashion consultant and television personality. He was on the faculty of Parsons The New School for Design from 1982 to 2007 and was chair of fashion design at the school from August 2000 to March 2007, after which he joined Liz Claiborne as its chief creative officer. He is well-known as on-air mentor to designers on the reality television program Project Runway. Gunn's popularity on Project Runway led to his spin-off show, Bravo's Tim Gunn's Guide to Style, as well as his book A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style.
So he's a C-List "celebrity" who has something to do with girls' clothes and reality TV.  What's the thought, here?  Very smart people designed, scripted and cast this commercial.  Expedia paid a bunch of money, and apparently decided that this is what they wanted to say.  Well, what exactly IS IT that they're trying to say?  That minor reality-TV personalities are good people from whom to get cut-rate travel advice?  That gay guys know how to save a buck?  That caricatures of prancing gay men can really pack-em-in for flights to Oahu?  Are we supposed to laugh (at or with) this performance, as we're clearly supposed to laugh with Bill Shatner's antics on behalf of Priceline.com?

The Marlboro Man sells cigarettes because smoking is supposed to be rough and tough and manly.  Hot girls sell cars because the testosterone-poisoned purchaser fantasizes that he acquires both transportation and companionship for four years of low monthly payments. Christie Brinkley sells perfume because what guy wouldn't want his girl to . . . well, smell like Christie Brinkley?

Flaming queens sell travel because . . . what?

Can anyone imagine Don Draper approving this spot? I didn't think so.

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Murdoch's Wife to the Rescue

As all the world knows by now, during his testimony yesterday to a Parliamentary committee, Press Baron Rupert Murdoch was attacked by a pie-throwing "protester." In the video below, we see Baron Rupert's son largely immobile, Rupert himself sitting with as much dignity as can be mustered under the circumstances, and Mr. Murdoch's wife, the former Wendi Deng, vaulting over intervening obstacles to smack the pie-thrower up side the head.  Ms. Deng, a former volleyball player, married Murdoch in 1999, when she was 29 and he 66.  She seems a good investment, wot?

At least now I have an answer to the inevitable question: "No, no, my dear, it's not just THAT -- I need a bodyguard as well."

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Crazed Cop Seizes Gun, Confiscates Video Camera

Oh. Wait. "Jeremy" seems to be trying to make a point about open-carry and making a video of the cop. Cop is cool with that.


Were the '70s Great, or What?

Trust me. I was there. Don't tell me that there's anything on TV like this these days. Now there's crime lab shows, cop shows, secret agent shows. Pffft. Gimme this sort of good, old-fashioned story any time.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

NJ Governor Chris Christie Comments on the Debt Ceiling Talks

Oh, and he's going to a political fund-raiser for Steve King. What? You never heard of Steve King? He's a Congressman. From Iowa.


What's For Dinner Tonight?

We're planning to use Dean Martin's recipe:


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Monday, July 18, 2011

The Poor Will Always be With Us

A new report from the Heritage Foundation, analyzing data compiled by the Federal Government, concludes that those defined by the Government as "poor" do not live in the conditions you probably think they do:
Each year for the past two decades, the U.S. Census Bureau has reported that over 30 million Americans were living in “poverty.” In recent years, the Census has reported that one in seven Americans are poor. But what does it mean to be “poor” in America? How poor are America’s poor?

For most Americans, the word “poverty” suggests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter. For example, the Poverty Pulse poll taken by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development asked the general public: “How would you describe being poor in the U.S.?” The overwhelming majority of responses focused on homelessness, hunger or not being able to eat properly, and not being able to meet basic needs. That perception is bolstered by news stories about poverty that routinely feature homelessness and hunger.


In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. If there were children, especially boys, in the home, the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or a PlayStation.[4] In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker.

The home of the typical poor family was not overcrowded and was in good repair. In fact, the typical poor American had more living space than the average European. The typical poor American family was also able to obtain medical care when needed. By its own report, the typical family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

Poor families certainly struggle to make ends meet, but in most cases, they are struggling to pay for air conditioning and the cable TV bill as well as to put food on the table. Their living standards are far different from the images of dire deprivation promoted by activists and the mainstream media.


The median poor household had five fewer amenities than the median household in the general population. Specifically, the typical poor household lacked the following items that were in the typical middle-income household: a personal computer, Internet access, a computer printer, a dishwasher, and a cell phone.
Read the whole thing.


85% Don't Know; 15% Scared to Death


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ye shall know them by their fruits

What do you suppose it is that so terrifies the totalitarian governments of Viet Nam and China?


Saturday, July 16, 2011

You had to be there


Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus had no flush toilet

If we were to try to list the number of important economic truths packed into this short video, the list would be long and you would be bored.

But, in addition to the matter of Augustus and flush toilets, we do wish that you would contemplate what the cell phone would be like today, and what it would cost, if it had been designed by a Government which then mandated that you buy one.




Friday, July 15, 2011

Submitted for your consideration


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Depressed About the Hopelessness of the Debt Ceiling Situation?

If you are, then you might be cheered up by this:
Here’s how things seem to stand. Entropy is increasing. London Bridge is falling down. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is a picture of the fall, and time is its measure. Gravity (and its evil twin, inertia) runs the clock. Particles without mass, such as photons, can’t be made into clocks (that is, structures that measure the passage of time) all by themselves, and as more and more material transforms into such massless particles, the material world degrades to low-level energy in fits and starts, fizzles and pops.

All matter eventually becomes heat lugged outward in the form of force-carrying particles such as photons and, maybe, gravitons. Outward to where? To nowhere.

It’s a picture of the universe as one flaming arrow shot into the dark. The arrow hits no target because there is no target out there.

The expanding pressure is inexorable. The cosmological constant does not allow the universe to contract again. All the black holes evaporate. The coarse-grain irregularities of nature even out. Those force-carrying particles the bosons are all that remain and they spread until they are so far apart they can no longer cause any change in another portion of existence. Their world lines intersect nothing ahead. Without matter and causation, you can’t build a clock.

The clocks don’t stop, they simply cease to exist.

The universe dies.

Or lives on in an ineffectual forever, depending on how you want to look at it.
But maybe there's hope! Read Gravity’s Punch: The Heat Death of the Universe Got You Down? Fight Back with Science!

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I do not think it means what you think it means

The Hill reports:
Republicans said tense negotiations over raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit at the White House ended when President Obama stormed out of the meeting with a stern warning to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.): “Don’t call my bluff.”

“It ended with the president abruptly walking out of the meeting,” Cantor told reporters upon returning to the Capitol Wednesday.
Our handy Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the transitive verb "to bluff" to mean:

a : to deter or frighten by pretense or a mere show of strength;
b : deceive;
c : feign [the catcher bluffed a throw to first].

By which I take the President to have meant that his position in these critical debt limit negotiations is a pretense, intended to deceive?

For purposes of argument, let's assume he meant not that he's bluffing, but the opposite. He meant to say, "Don't think that I'm bluffing."

In which case, what does that mean? That unless all agree to do what he's proposed . . . what? He will do what?


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Just Kill Me Now

You are unlikely to see this chart sitting on a easel behind anyone in Washington who needs to run for election. It's from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Click on the image to enlarge.


Shoes . . . .

. . . dropping: "Moody’s Places U.S. on Review for Downgrade As Debt Talks Stall."



British Admiral John Fisher, sometime First Sea Lord, published his memoirs in 1919. In them, he quotes the following line from a letter he had written in 1917: "I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis—O.M.G. (Oh! My God!)—Shower it on the Admiralty!"

More HERE. See also, the Oxford English Dictionary.


Words Ben Bernanke Hates to Hear

"The chair recognizes Mr. Paul . . . ."

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Plus ça change, plus c’est pareil


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Because no one . . . .


Classy Guy, Our President

Today we have a multiple-choice question.

President Barack Obama:

A. Exploited his mother's death from cancer for political points;
B. Let his mother fight with her insurance company instead of helping her out and doing the paperwork himself;
C. Made it sound as if her health insurer refused to pay, when that was untrue;
D. All of the above.

Yeah, you guessed it.


Attacking an Elephant with a Fly Swatter

According to CNN's latest summary of leaks, speculation and spin respecting the negotiations between House Republicans and the President over raising the debt limit:
It's time to "pull off the Band-Aid" and "eat our peas," Obama told reporters of the need for both sides to make difficult choices to address the nation's mounting federal deficits and debt. "Let's step up. Let's do it."

Noting that Republicans have pushed for decisive action on debt reduction, Obama urged them to compromise from their blanket refusal to end Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy Americans. The president said he'd be willing to push Democrats to do something they don't like -- reform Medicare and other entitlement programs that are the party's political legacy -- in an effort to reach his goal of trimming the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10-12 years.
Of course, much of that "saving" occurs disproportionately in later years, with respect to which it's easier to get the numbers to say whatever you'd like.

Most importantly, it presently appears that such a grand deal -- saving $4 trillion over 12 years -- is too much for too many politicians to swallow, and is likely to fail.

But lack of agreement is not the most depressing aspect of this ritual. Keep in mind that experience and well-justified skepticism suggests that many of these savings will never materialize. But, even if they do, the grand, impossible deal would save only $333 billion per year.

Now ponder this: According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Federal Government is projected to run a deficit of $1.5 trillion for the current fiscal year, which ends with September. That is to say, a budget deal too radical and controversial to pass would amount to less than one-quarter of the Federal Government's deficit for 2011.

The CBO also has an estimate for the sum of the annual deficits for the next 10 years, 2012 through 2021. That number is just shy of $7.8 trillion. And CBO itself has little confidence that the deficits will be that small:
Those projections, however, are based on the assumption that tax and spending policies unfold as specified in current law. Consequently, they understate the budget deficits that would occur if many policies currently in place were continued, rather than allowed to expire as scheduled under current law.
Which is to say that if present practices continue, and promised spending reductions and tax increases never materialize, the 10-year deficit will be even higher.

So as you listen to the faux statesmanlike pronouncements from our leaders, consider that their most ambitious plan, now admittedly politically impossible, would do no more than cut in half the amount of additional debt that will accumulate over the next 10 years.

But the situation is actually far worse than these frightening numbers would suggest. Today, the average cost to the Treasury for borrowing is 2.5%. The average cost of the Treasury borrowing over the last twenty years is . . . 5.7%. If interest rates were to rise from their current historically low rates to the more reasonable 20-year average, then over the next 10 years interest costs to service the national debt would increase by about $4.9 trillion. That is, if interest rates return to more normal levels, the politically impossible 10-year deficit reduction "savings" of $4 trillion would be more than wiped out.

Have a wonderful day.


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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Who Knew There Was an "Ed Wood Film Festival?"


Friday, July 01, 2011

Dangerous Talk!

We present, without editorial comment, a statement from The Honorable John Conyers (D-Mich.), who has been a Member of Congress for the best part of the last half century:
This is the first time that I can remember being confronted by members of the Congress, my colleagues, who say, "I don’t care if I get reelected or not, I want to cut the budget by $100 billion or whatever." I’ve never seen that kind of a member before. It’s a dangerous point of view from my perspective.
More at Politico.


Happy Canada Day!

It's Canada Day today. Like all things Canadian [except Molson; oh, wait, doesn't Coors own them now? Nevermind.] we don't know much about it. We'll just assume that it's some sort of holiday with a history and dignity somewhere between that of Independence Day and National Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day.

And in honor thereof, we present O Canada! [which is sort of like the Canadian Star Spangled Banner, except easier to sing], performed by one of Canada's Favorite Sons:


Sigh . . . .

"How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?" Oscar Wilde

When We Were All Just 18

We are forces of chaos and anarchy.  Everything they say we are we are.  And we are very proud of ourselves.