August 31, 2013

Saturday Learning Series - Aging, Immortality and Telomeres.

A bonus Saturday Learning Series post today (unrelated to the regularly scheduled post), on the science of the aging process and telomeres.

Saturday Learning Series - Connections 2, Whodunit

James Burke, historian.
James Burke's series Connections and The Day The Universe Changed in the late 1970s and mid-1980s respectively were very successful at taking a historical and philosophical look at scientific change.  The two series led to a Connections sequel (Connections 2) in 1994, with James Burke still at the helm of the project (and another, Connections 3 in 1997). 

Series continued from Episode 3.

Note - If you are interested in the Connections series or Connections 3 or The Day The Universe Changed, they can be found here.

Here's episode 4 of Connections 2, Whodunit.

August 30, 2013

Making the world a better place, one trait at a time

The Seven Deadly Sins:  How many will you admit to having exhibited?

Want to make the world a better place?  Try replacing just one of those, with one of these in your own life:

Friday Musical Interlude - We Belong

The official video of Pat Benatar's 1984 hit, We Belong.

August 29, 2013

Ed Morrissey's brilliance in a paragraph

Ed Morrissey is not the only one to hop on this story but I thought I'd point out one reason I admire his political sensibilities and acumen.  In a single paragraph he obliterates a vapid argument about why everyone should put their children into public education.  It's pure brilliance:
She starts off her argument by pronouncing anyone who does not put their children in public schools a “bad person”:
You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.
Take a moment to mull over that gem. Benedikt’s entire argument is that non-participants in an organization ruin it by their non-participation. It’s not the actual participants who are to blame for the institution’s failures – not the teachers, not the administrators, and not the policy-makers — but the people who avoid the failure that should be blamed. That argument conveniently lets the participants in this “most-essential” institution off the hook for their own failures.
While Morrissey goes on to dissect the vapidity of the Slate opinion piece, he didn't need to do so. He could have stopped right after that paragraph because the assessment was esthetically perfect, irrefutable in it's logic and completely compelling. Great stuff, that.

National Fast Food Strike Exposes the Real Problem

The news about a national fast food strike is front page Occupy Wall Street stuff, except the real headline is going to be being buried in the story.
Via CBS (emphasis added):
Employees of fast food restaurants are striking in cities around the country, bolstered by support from labor unions, churches, and other groups, demanding $15 an hour wages and a greater ability to unionize. Many consumers have complained that the expectations are unreasonable, given the type of work and the skills and drive they assume must be lacking in the workers.

However, government statistics and studies suggest that the common picture of the fast food worker is inaccurate. Not only are relatively few of them teenagers looking for some pocket money while attending school, but the number of adults working in low-paying part-time jobs against their wishes is rapidly growing.
Wasn't the recovery summer in 2009 2010 2011 or something?  The real story is that the unemployment rate recovery under Obama is even more illusory than originally imagined. We assume that the employment situation was worse than the slowly recovering unemployment rate has indicated, but CBS inadvertently lets the cat out of the bag - employment numbers are being underpinned by people doing jobs they are ay overqualified for because they can't find better quality work.
Why isn't that the headline, or at least the thrust of the story? Oh yeah, because this president still gets a free pass.

Bonus Thursday Hillary Bash - Wrong on Syria circa 2011

It's never too early to dredge up the past on the de facto next president, because she does not deserve an uncontested coronation.

Via Weasel Zippers, 2011: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Describes Syria’s Assad As A “Reformer”… . Really? Why Hillary - what evidence supported that?

Hillary Clinton cannot handle the fabled 3 .a.m. call any more than her 2008 primary opponent Barack Obama could. She claims to have foreign policy credibility but she was wrong on the Russian rest, wrong on her own flight into Bosnia and wrong on Assad.  She has no foreign policy credibility. None.

Thursday Hillary Bash - Jay Cost's perspective

Jay Cost takes a look at Hillary's age and notes that at her inauguration in 2017, she would be 69 years old - not exactly a fresh face.  That makes her an outlier in the presidential age category the same way Ronald Reagan was.  Would that affect her electability?

Jay opines;
With prior losers, it is hard to argue that age was a major factor in their final defeats. It may be instead that the qualities that kept those candidates from the White House the first time around contributed to the subsequent losses. If, for instance, Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney had been particularly strong candidates, they should have won the party nod the first time they attempted to gain it, when their ages were closer to the historical average. Of course, the same goes for Clinton. She lost to Barack Obama despite massive fundraising, the strong backing (at least initially) of Democratic elites, and universal name recognition. So here is another count against Clinton’s chances—whether her age will be an impediment directly or merely an indication of other impediments she faces.
If the GOP nominate a younger candidate, it should provide an interesting twist on typical electoral campaigns where the GOP nominee is typically significantly older than the Democrat in the race.

August 28, 2013

An Observation on a $10 Minimum Wage Idea

Via MSNBC, (H/T Hot Air), Senator Barbara Boxer argues that the U.S. needs a higher minimum wage.  Say $10 per hour. Let me add my two cents. First, here's Boxer on MSNBC:

Here's an idea, let's just make every American rich by raising the minimum wage to $50 per hour. There's a reason that's not possible - no one will hire anyone. It's the same argument as the implications that Obamacare heaps upon employers. But we've discussed the perils of the minimum wage here before, and that's not my latest observation. My more recent observation came from my wife when they were raising the minimum wage here in Ontario Canada to $10 per hour.
She was debating a few co-workers who said that a raise in the minimum wage would help them even though they made significantly more than the minimum wage.  She argued that the reverse was in fact true.  She pointed out that while those whose work efforts were less valuable than their own (meaning the work of her co-workers) were now making more for doing the same work, and therefore her co-workers' value, relatively speaking, had fallen.  Awesome point! I must add that I am proud of my wife for taking on co-workers in this fashion and indeed, converting a few of them to her line of thinking.  That's always tough.
Setting aside all of the arguments about it putting people out of work (which ultimately it will do), there's an expansion on the idea that my wife put forth.  If you are someone making $13 per hour and you are wearing yourself out to do so, there are now less lucrative but less tiresome jobs available.  It might be worth the step back for the sake of your health.  Alternately, you could stop working as hard because you didn't get an inflationary raise to keep you equidistantly ahead of your minimum wage counterparts working at McDonald's.  So you slack.  Productivity goes down and the job goes to India.  And we are back to putting people out of work - just not the people at the minimum wage level this time.
But I could be wrong.  Barbara Boxer could be a genius with all of the answers and I'm an idiot....Nah!

Coming Soon: Market Panic?

Jim Rogers seems to think so. I don't know about a panic, but there sure seems to be a stimulus bubble that's ready to deflate, if not burst.

August 27, 2013

From the Unbelievable Government files

Unbelievable government in action - the IRS is targeting the American Legion. getting a slight rap on the knuckles and a culprit promoted for targeting the Tea Party and other conservative groups unexpectedly did not deter such behavior at the IRS.

The Internal Revenue Service is targeting the veterans’ organization the American Legion, and a U.S. senator believes that Lois Lerner — a key figure in the IRS scandal – is to blame.

“The IRS now requires American Legion posts to maintain dates of service and character of service records for all members… The penalty for not having the required proof of eligibility is, apparently, $1,000 per day,” the American Legion stated...

“On the heels of Americans’ anger over revelations that the IRS intentionally targeted certain groups, it has been brought to my attention that the IRS is now turning their sights toward our nation’s veterans,” Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran said. “The IRS seems to be auditing veteran service organizations by requiring private member military service forms.”
The scariest thing about this is that  an expanding IRS targeting scandal means that eventually, everybody could be in their sites.  Talk about control.

Voting Rights Act - Get Over It!

So Rep. Sensenbrenner has pledged that the GOP will fix the Voting Rights Act because parts of it were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  Isn't that great? Nope, it's complete stupidity.  Here's why.

Via the Washington Post;
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said Monday that he will attempt to replace, by the end of the year, the portion of the Voting Rights Act that was struck down by the Supreme Court.

Sensenbrenner’s comments came Monday at an event hosted by the Republican National Committee, commemorating the March on Washington.

Sensenbrenner said he wants to fix the law so that it is immune to court challenges.

“The first thing we have to do is take the monkey wrench that the court threw in it, out of the Voting Rights Act, and then use that monkey wrench to be able to fix it so that it is alive, well, constitutional and impervious to another challenge that will be filed by the usual suspects,” Sensenbrenner said.

August 26, 2013

Get ready for "Kerry lied, people died."

Because on the right, we are vindictive like that...

Word today, John Kerry is saying it is undeniable that there Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in Syria.  When president Bush said this about Iraq, most of the liberals who subsequently targeted president Bush as liar were on board for invading Iraq.
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the use of chemical weapons in attacks on civilians in Syria last week was undeniable and that the Obama administration would hold the Syrian government accountable for what he called a “moral obscenity” that had shocked the world’s conscience.
I doubt conservatives are eager for a Syrian expedition at this point.  But what of the general public?  Is there any appetite at all for yet another foreign intervention?  I sincerely doubt it.  And even a few cruise missiles at a million dollars a piece might be too much for voters to stomach in light of things like a Detroit bankruptcy, and Chicago school kids having to go through no man's land to get to school these days. We'll see.  But if WMD's are not found the temptation to start with "Kerry lied, people died", or even "Obama lied, people died." will be hard to resist.
Of course if they find WMDs, that's another story. But don't hold your breath.

Rand Paul endorsed by..Julian Assange?

Curious news of the day - Julian Assange has praised Rand Paul.  It's not exactly an earth shattering news item but on a dull news day like today, it will make some waves.
Responding to questions during a Google Hangout session, Assange praised the college-aged supported libertarian faction of the Republican Party as the “only hope” for U.S. electoral politics.

“The libertarian aspect of the Republican Party is presently the only useful political voice really in the U.S. Congress,” said Assange.
The Wikileaks founder also praised Ron Paul and Matt Drudge. Color me confused. Yes, there is likely some alignment on the views of Assange with the libertarian wing of the GOP. But why say that? And why say that now? Does it alienate the Occupy Wall Street crowd who probably were in support of Assange? Likely, so that's not a good reason. Similarly it doesn't appear to do anything to help Assange with his current extradition woes or with fighting the charges against him.

If he really supports Rand Paul, does he believe his endorsement will have a net positive effect on Rand Paul's support? It could have a negative effect, and very possibly could create a GOP primary split that only complicates matters. It's hard to say whether Assange's comments are helpful or hurtful in terms of net effect for both Paul and the GOP, particularly given how many people see Assange as having leaked sensitive national security details. Assange must realize that as well, which makes his comments all the more curious.

That said, the semi-endorsement is interesting and could get a lot of people thinking about Rand Paul.

Slow news day puts spotlight on Rahm Emanuel

It's a slow news day so far.  Obama is still an awful president.  Egypt is still a mess but it could be waning.  Meanwhile Syria has gotten no better.  Al Gore is still in the climate hucksterism business. The only real new news worth looking at this morning involves, Rahm Emanuel????
There are a bunch of school closings in Chicago and students are forced to walk some scary paths to alternate schools as the city deals with budget shortfalls.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel led the initiative to close schools to help pay down the city’s $1 billion budget deficit, meaning many students are going to new schools. But the first day back comes just a day after one man was shot on one of the routes students will be taking, and a 14-year-old boy was shot and killed near another.
Hey, is that last news item reality setting in on a liberal stronghold?  Rahm may look like the bad guy here but the real culprit is no doubt the massive city deficit and years of pie in the sky liberal spending.

Manufacturing in America, A Visual

Manufacturing in America is critical to it's future.  To understand some of the key facts about it, click the infographic to enlarge it.  I'd provide you the link to the source, but it's a liberal site and in fact this page is an AFL-CIO enabled page. But that isn't to say they aren't right about this issue.

It also brings to mind another question - if the idea that everyone should own a home led to the mortgage meltdown and banking collapse and Great Recession of 2007-2008, then what is the eventual outcome of an education bubble where everyone is targeting an MBA and no one is being trained to be in manufacturing and actually doing work.  A nation of all managers has the same problem as a company with too many VPs and not enough workers; it's top heavy.

Click to enlarge.

August 25, 2013

An Eye Candy Experiment

Lord knows I've resisted Rule 5 for getting blog traffic.  It detracts from the blog's credibility in my opinion.  But I am at heart moved by evidence, and being a database marketing guy, you always have to test ideas.
Not that a spike in the volume of traffic would change my mind about hiking my blog traffic would change my mind about posting eye candy from time to time.  It's more about satisfying my curiosity about whether it would actually make a difference or not.
So here it is for you, some eye candy.

Did I miss the point?

Sunday Laughs

Yep, he said it.

August 24, 2013

Share this Business Week article with your liberal friends

Business Week has a great article explaining the problem of the fiscal gap and how it is not a partisan issue.
Share this. Just because it is an eye opener, the liberal you speak to, might be awakened. A bit.  Even if not, it never hurts to try.
Worried about the economic future of your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren? Brace yourself for a big number. By one prominent economist’s calculation, the U.S. federal government faces a long-term “fiscal gap”—the difference between projected future expenditures and receipts—of about $200 trillion.

This sounds like the kind of thing that’s embraced by deficit hawks and small-government types on the Right and strongly resisted by most Democrats. In fact, the fiscal gap is a nonpartisan accounting concept. Twelve winners of the Nobel prize for economics have endorsed a bill to require the federal government to do an official annual calculation of the fiscal gap (as opposed to the $200 trillion figure, which is a rough and unofficial estimate). The luminary endorsers of the bill, who rarely find common ground on political issues, include liberal Kenneth Arrow and conservative Robert Lucas.
The closing paragraph even points out how well sequestration seems to have worked. The number will astound you.

Read the rest here.

Saturday Learning Series - Connections 2, Getting it Together

James Burke, historian.
James Burke's series Connections and The Day The Universe Changed in the late 1970s and mid-1980s respectively were very successful at taking a historical and philosophical look at scientific change.  The two series led to a Connections sequel (Connections 2) in 1994, with James Burke still at the helm of the project (and another, Connections 3 in 1997). 

Series continued from Episode 2.

Note - If you are interested in the Connections series or Connections 3 or The Day The Universe Changed, they can be found here.

Here's episode 3 of Connections 2, Getting It Together.

August 23, 2013

Fort Hood Terror Gunman Guilty of Murder (aka workplace violence)

Army Maj. Nidal Hasan has been found guilty of murder in the Fort Hood shoot deaths of 13.

A military jury on Friday convicted Army Maj. Nidal Hasan of 13 counts of premeditated murder in a November 5, 2009, shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, making it possible for the death penalty to be considered as a punishment.

The jurors deliberated fewer than seven hours over two days to hand down a verdict against Hasan, who admitted to targeting soldiers he was set to deploy with to Afghanistan to protect the Taliban and its leaders. The shooting rampage occurred at a deployment processing center.
He admitted doing so to protect the Taliban. It begs the question; does the Obama administration still consider this an incidence of workplace violence?

Friday Musical Interlude - Journey

My very first Journey Friday Musical Interlude - Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin' from late 1979, though it's probably fair to call this an 80s song.

August 22, 2013

Thursday Hillary Bash - ZoNation sets it out!

A bonus Thursday Hillary Bash for you today. AlfonZo Rachel lays it out regarding Hillary 2016.

Tipping Point Achieved (almost)

The dependency culture may now be officially irreversible, at least in 70% of all states.

Via Fox News:
Welfare pays more than a minimum-wage job in 35 states, creating little incentive for Americans to take entry-level work and likely increasing their long-term dependency on government help, according to a new study by the libertarian think tank Cato Institute.

The finds come 17 years after the Clinton administration, with bipartisan support from Congress, passed landmark welfare reform legislation that was supposed to move Americans away from entitlements and into the workforce.

However, “welfare benefits continue to outpace the income that most recipients can expect to earn from an entry-level job,” the study authors said. “And the balance between welfare and work may actually have grown worse in recent years.”

Among the other findings is that welfare in 13 states pays more than $15 an hour, compared with the federal hourly minimum wage of $7.25.
 In 13 states you get double the minimum wage for staying at home?  To use the tired expression, in what universe does that make sense?
Of course you can expect to hear from liberals the logic-deficient argument that the situation simply requires that the minimum wage needs to be increased to above the welfare rate.  Of course doing so would simply drive businesses out of those states or ultimately, if it were a federally mandated minimum wage, off shore.  The unintended consequence (or perhaps intended) of such action would be drive yet more people onto welfare rolls.
If the Cato findings make headlines, expect the left to try to shape the language of the debate.  Expect minimum wage and welfare to go the way of global warming (now AGW or climate change) and be replaced with terms like living wage, and poverty threshold. The important thing for conservatives to do is not let that hijacking occur.  The issue is simple:
Welfare payments are too high, welfare rolls are too high, and jobs are the answer. Period.

Thursday Hillary Bash - Setting her campaign back story up

It looks like Hillary Clinton has got the storyline set for her 2016 presidential campaign, and it's about her being the woman champion for all women.  "Women Who Break Barriers" is meant to imply her becoming the first female president but also symbolically link her to all other women who have broken or want to break glass ceilings for themselves.

“Hypothetically speaking, I really do hope that we have a woman president in my lifetime,” Clinton said coyly, making an implicit nod to the history she might make herself. “Our country,” she added, “has to take that leap of faith.”

Unlike during her 2008 presidential campaign, when she waited until her concession speech to fully embrace the historic nature of her candidacy, Clinton these days talks freely about women breaking barriers. She has woven a theme of women’s empowerment throughout almost all of her public remarks in the seven months since she stepped down as secretary of state.
Want more Hillary bashing? Click the pic to find related content.
As I said to a friend long ago, having the first African American president be a dismal failure does not make it any easier to ever get a second African American president any time soon after.  The same holds true for Hillary Clinton - philosophically she is not that far from president Obama.  So another four years of a floundering economy paired with forefront social policies that run against the grain of middle America, mean that it could be a long time after a theoretical Hillary Clinton presidency that a second female president ever gets a shot.

The point is that there is no reason not to have an African American, a female, a Hispanic or a gay president but that those selection criteria and potential empathy for a voting block are not qualifications for a good president.  Those attributes MUST come second to the real qualities of a good leader - knowledge, competence, vision, etc.

Just because Clinton is a woman, does not entitle her to the presidency in 2016.  Plenty of women are qualified to be president.  Hillary Clinton is not one of them.  We've already seen her policy approach fail because they are being implemented by the current president.

August 21, 2013

Media Watch - a snapshot in time.

My wife got asked to be interviewed today for a local news station on a public interest story.  They specifically asked her to say things that weren't true.  For privacy reasons I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that she likely won't be on the air in the news story.  Media manipulation is nothing new.  In any case I just thought I would share a quick snapshot on the media bias we all know and dislike - a couple of examples for your consideration, since I don't have time for more.

CNN's Carol Costello asserts the public is "pretty evenly split" on Obamacare.  Oops.

And there's this;

And a recent Al Jazeera example in an instructional format about how media stages stuff;

NYT overlooks the sinister possibilities re: Egypt

The New York Times has an article today about the considerable leverage that the US Government has with the Egyptian military and how the Obama administration is reviewing that leverage.  But what the NYT overlooks, is that it is very possible that the leverage has already been applied and that the Egyptian military is already listening to Washington. Nevertheless, the Times does present some interesting facts.
In fact, Egypt is so enamored of Apache attack helicopters, M1A1 battle tanks and F-16 fighter jets that exasperated American military officials have been telling generals there for years that they need to expand beyond the hardware of bygone wars and spend more American money on border security, as well as counterterrorism and surveillance equipment and training that a truly modern military needs.

Either way, a close look at the details of American military aid to Egypt shows why the relatively modest $1.3 billion may give the United States more leverage over the Egyptian military than it may seem, although still not as much as it wants.

Even if Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies make up for any aid the United States may suspend, Washington would block Egypt from buying American weaponry with that money — a serious long-term problem for a military that is already viewed as sclerotic and has neglected pilot training so badly that the Egyptian air force has one of the worst crash rates of any F-16 fleet in the world.

What Egypt’s generals fear most is the cutoff of hundreds of millions of dollars in mundane but essential maintenance contracts that keep the tanks, fighter jets and helicopters running, American officials and lawmakers said. In the past, maintenance costs have represented roughly 15 percent of total American military aid to Egypt, according to the Government Accountability Office.

August 20, 2013

Digging the Scott Walker

2016 president
I'm digging the Scott Walker.  Dark Horse for president?  I hope so. 
Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey calls out a Scott Walker interview on Morning Joe and points out the real message behind Walker's discussion points: the GOP isn't effective at messaging and communication. I've been arguing this since 2008. Being right is not enough. The message needs to get out there and it needs to be clear, simple, relatable to everyday lives. Anything else will get lost on voters, and twisted in the liberal media.

It isn't enough that Walker is doing the right things, he's winning the war of ideas because he knows how to fight it. He's got governor experience, he's won battles against dug-in political opposition more than once. Right now, I'd take him as a candidate over Chris Christie (for the right ideas), Ted Cruz (for experience), Bobby Jindal (for presence) and Rand Paul (for electability) or Marco Rubio (for consistency). It's not that I can't find things to like about the other candidates I've mentioned (in fact a lot in some cases), but Walker has both a good track record of accomplishment as well as an understanding of the electorate and their perceptions.
It's no longer enough to complain about the media distorting the message - that's a recipe for continued failure. It's not enough to be right about the issues and still lose. Now the GOP must formulate a message that connects with voters and explains their position. Here's the interview Morrissey brings to light;

As Ed points out,
As The Hill points out, Walker’s criticism echoes the more abrasive comment last week from Newt Gingrich that Republicans on Capitol Hill have “zero” alternatives to ObamaCare. Some in the GOP balked at that comment, pointing to a number of proposals Republicans on Capitol Hill have floated over the last four years to the ACA. Walker gets closer to the mark in noting that while Capitol Hill Republicans know this, they haven’t done a very good job in communicating either the specifics of the plans, or the principles of the party.
Success demands that.
It's early and way too early to line up with an individual candidate for president.  But for right now I am digging the Scott Walker.

August 19, 2013

Organic police shake down small farmers

Organic vegetable farmers, particularly the smaller ones, are being squeezed by government organic police.  'Police' is actually a kind term as it's more like government shakedown artists.  Pay for the

What happens if you adhere to every process restriction that a corporation that sells its food using the 'organic' label adheres to, but you don't pay the fees to get a government 'certification' and still try to claim you are 'organic' at a local Farmer's Market?

About $20,000 in government fines, it seems.

There are not many people who truly still believe an 'organic' label is healthier food. Organic pesticides are no better (or worse) for us than synthetic pesticides and the list of exemptions for synthetic ingredients that organic food conglomerates have gotten approved by the US Department of Agriculture is dizzying. Meanwhile, organic companies (and the USDA) are stuck trying to claim a fruit mutated by random cosmic rays is organic but a fruit with a precisely controlled genetic optimization is not only inorganic but unnatural and harmful, a claim that every major scientific body disputes.
The Unintended Consequences of the government regulating the labelling of produce as organic is that small farmers who cannot afford to label their products as certified organic, is that they will come up with other labels.  Who wants to pay a fee for government certification?  Only mega-producers who can afford the fees.
The farmers are getting hurt, and in an interesting twist, the granola-crunching organic-loving crowd is being forced to pay higher prices for the organic label as supply is negatively affected.  Alternately they may simply be confused by the array of labels they are faced with.
Meanwhile the government is not doing much to protect those who have paid the fee to get the organic label on their produce.  Fining the violators brings in revenue for the government but because the producers are small, they are probably getting away with it in many if not most cases.  There is too much ground to cover checking these.  Besides, the fine may be meant to scare people out of violating the organic label, it does not stop alternate labeling.  Just like the fee for certification, the fine is clearly just another shake down.

Trifecta on the Hyperloop

The Pajamas Media Trifecta discuss Elon Musk's Hyperloop idea. While the idea has already been lampooned at The Onion and I'm certainly highly skeptical, there's no doubt that the private sector idea would be a better option than Obama's 'shovel-ready' high speed train system for the same route. That is provided Musk was not looking for government funding.

August 18, 2013

Sunday Laughs

Some Sunday funnies for you.

Via Urban Dictionary:
Stupid liberals:

...believe oil companies' profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene but the government taxing the same gallon of gas at 15% isn't. :

...believe the government will do a better job of spending the money they earn than they would. :

...believe Freedom of speech is fine as long as nobody is offended by it. :

...are way too irresponsible to own a gun, and think that the local police are all they need to protect them from murderers and thieves. :

...believe that people who can't tell us if it will rain on Friday can tell us that the polar ice caps will melt away in ten years if I don't start driving a Prius. :

...believe liberal judges need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit some fringe kooks who would never get their agendas past the voters. :

Those stupid liberals voted for pie in the sky again.

Why do we get the ugly guy?

This photogenic liberal, Drew Barrymore had this to say "I just didn't understand the American political system, and I felt really stupid about that." while she was busy pushing her "documentary" about the importance of voting. And she wore this shirt.

Meanwhile, Rowan Atkinson, not the most photogenic and not necessarily a conservative, came down on the side of conservatives with this comment as well as the one below with respect to the over-reach of political correctness.


“‘I’m not intolerant,’ say many softly-spoken, highly educated liberal-minded people,” Atkinson said. “‘I’m only intolerant of intolerance.’ And people tend to nod sagely and say, ‘Oh yes, wise words, wise words.’ And yet if you think about this supposedly inarguable statement for longer than five seconds you realize that all it is advocating is the replacement of one kind of intolerance with another.”

The law, he said, is “indicative of a culture that has taken hold of the program of successive governments that with the reasonable and well-intentioned ambition to contain obnoxious elements in society, has created a society of an extraordinarily authoritarian and controlling nature.”
But it's not likely he's going to be as respected by a lot of people for his comments as Barrymore would be for her shirt.

August 17, 2013

Saturday Learning Series - Connections 2, Flexible Response

James Burke, historian.
James Burke's series Connections and The Day The Universe Changed in the late 1970s and mid-1980s respectively were very successful at taking a historical and philosophical look at scientific change.  The two series led to a Connections sequel (Connections 2) in 1994, with James Burke still at the helm of the project (and another, Connections 3 in 1997). 

Series continued from Episode 1.

Note - If you are interested in the Connections series or Connections 3 or The Day The Universe Changed, they can be found here.

Here's episode 2 of Connections 2, Flexible Response.

Saturday Learning Series - Connections 2, Revolutions

James Burke, historian.
James Burke's series Connections and The Day The Universe Changed in the late 1970s and mid-1980s respectively were very successful at taking a historical and philosophical look at scientific change.  The two series led to a Connections sequel (Connections 2) in 1994, with James Burke still at the helm of the project (and another, Connections 3 in 1997). 

While not as awesome as the original, Connections 2 is still a solid effort and a much more interesting take on history than you find in high school or most university lectures and engaging enough to enjoy.

Note - If you are interested in the Connections series or Connections 3 or The Day The Universe Changed, they can be found here.

Here's episode 1 of Connections 2, Revolutions.

August 16, 2013

The Rationale for America is Quickly Disappearing

I recall telling a fellow Canadian something a couple of years ago when they had wondered aloud why Americans were so adamant about their guns and why they were so up in arms over government health care.  I explained to him that both issues stem from the same national sensibility and that America, as a nation was born of a distrust of government.  The English crown was the problem back then, but the DNA today remains the same - at least for many Americans - government cannot be trusted.
A light bulb went off for the Canadian in question.  It did not change his opinion on health care I am sure, but it did clarify his understanding of why people would have certain opinions on certain issues. In fact, he was the type whom I'm sure could and would apply that reasoning to views on other political topics.

Of course the explanation was a gross over-simplification of the conservative viewpoint on a number of issues.  But the simplification had its benefits in that it crystalized quite quickly an understanding that had not existed before. Also, I got lucky.  The conversation could have taken an entirely different, and more argumentative course if I had added one word to my explanation: healthy.  If I had said America was born of a healthy distrust of government, I'm sure I would have made no progress in that discussion.

The reason for the back story is that it relates to another issue. The original rationale for America is quickly disappearing.  The idea that the United States was the child of a core human wish for freedom (not democracy, but rather liberty) has been subverted in two fundamental ways. 

Friday Musical Interlude - Louis Prima & Keely Smith

From 1951, Louis Prima and Keely Smith's Oooh Dahdily Dah. Awesome.

August 15, 2013

Thursday Hillary Bash - phoning it in

I'm quite busy in my new day job role so I'm kinda phoning it in this week on the Thursday Hillary bash by re-iterating what The Weekly Standard mentioned on Tuesday.  But  that's okay, because apparently Hillary was phoning it in this week as well.
Here's a hint Hillary, if you are going to talk like you know the history around a slain civil rights leader, do more than just pretend you know.  Do some research first, and for Pete's sake, get the guy's name right. Otherwise it looks like you are talking out of your...hat, and that you don't really know the subject you are talking about. 
In terms of unpreparedness, it reminds me of the complete meltdown during the 2007 Democrat primaries debate where she couldn't get her position straight on the driver's license for illegal immigrants issue.

Major oops.

Linkaround for some interesting reads

Via SooperMexican - Kris Jenner slams Obama. I don't know whether to applaud or cry.  If it takes Kris Jenner (Kardashian) to refute Obama's attacks on success for a generation of people unaccustomed to hard work, I grieve for the nation.  Then again, at least she's on the right side of this issue.
Via Civil Libertarian - Junkie America.  I'm glad I am not the only one who sees alcohol, prescription pill and illegal drug problems as epidemic in America. 
Via Common Sense and Wonder - Obama's cell phone plan.  All the phones in America are not Obamaphones. So why is the president trying to dictate the market price of cell phone bills?  Because he's drunk with power.  Maybe Civil libertarian should add that to the list of junkie American ailments.
Obama Cartoons asks why a rodeo clown gets banned for donning an Obama mask after all of the similar style of dirt that was thrown at Bush without any consequences.  Lefty crybabies.  VandenBrink has a very direct comparison to a Bush equivalent.
Motivtion Truth carries the link for a discussion at the Smart Girl Summit on minority outreach.  An issue close to my heart on winning new allies by simply defining yourself rather than letting the left do it for you.
Just A Conservative Girl shares a story about an inappropriate dress in church.  To me it is a great example of why communication is important and reinforces the point about outreach in the Motivation Truth post.
The Last Tradition points out a current case where ThinkProgress is thinking about the politics of personal destruction before a candidate has even declared their intention.  It should gives you chills.
Walid Shoebat (Hat Tip Constitution Coalition) wonders if a jailed Muslim Brotherhood member might have the goods on Obama.  What goods could they possibly be I wonder?
Right Speak let's the cat out of the bag - border immigration has come down to catch phrases.  Serious face palm.
What We Think and Why rails against what can only be deemed excessive use of a position of authority on the part of police in a Texas littering stop. The war on drugs (see Civil Libertarian mentioned above) is important but it isn't being fought the right way.  The proof is that it is being lost and it's had some really negative unintended consequences if this sort of police state activity is going to become the norm.

August 14, 2013

NYT criticizes Clinton Foundation, and then shuts down its own website

A Thursday Hillary Bash on Wednesday?  Well, this is big.  So yes.
In a developing story, The New York Times is raising some questions about the Clinton Foundation, alleging in thinly veiled terms conflicts of interest, and large deficits despite gobs of cash pouring in.  The Telegraph has the story (The NYT article is behind their paywall, and apparently the entire NYT site is offline right now);
...the liberal NYT has no such scruples. The killer quote is this:

For all of its successes, the Clinton Foundation had become a sprawling concern, supervised by a rotating board of old Clinton hands, vulnerable to distraction and threatened by conflicts of interest. It ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years, despite vast amounts of money flowing in.

Over a year ago Bill Clinton met with some aides and lawyers to review the Foundation's progress and concluded that it was a mess. Well, many political start-ups can be, especially when their sole selling point is the big name of their founder (the queues are short at the Dan Quayle Vice Presidential Learning Center). But what complicated this review – what made its findings more politically devastating – is that the Clinton Foundation has become about more than just Bill. Now both daughter Chelsea and wife, and likely presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton have taken on major roles and, in the words of the NYT "efforts to insulate the foundation from potential conflicts have highlighted just how difficult it can be to disentangle the Clintons’ charity work from Mr Clinton’s moneymaking ventures and Mrs Clinton’s political future." Oh, they're entangled alright.

The NYT runs the scoop in its usual balanced, inoffensive way – but the problem jumps right off the page.
Tim Stanley concludes his piece wondering about the state of democracy in the States.
It's nothing new to report that there's an unhealthy relationship in America between money and politics, but it's there all the same. While the little people are getting hit with Obamacare, high taxes and joblessness, a class of businessmen enjoys ready access to politicians of both Left and Right that poses troubling questions for how the republic can continue to call itself a democracy so long as it functions as an aristocracy of the monied. Part of the reason why America's elites get away with it is becuase [SIC] they employ such fantastic salesmen. For too long now, Bill Clinton has pitched himself, almost without question, as a homespun populist: the Boy from Hope. The reality is that this is a man who – in May 1993 – prevented other planes from landing at LAX for 90 minues [SIC] while he got a haircut from a Beverley Hills hairdresser aboard Air Force One. The Clintons are populists in the same way that Barack Obama is a Nobel prize winner. Oh, wait…
That's a reasonable posit but a discussion for another time. The point that interests me is why the liberal NYT would suddenly post a story like this. Curious doesn't begin to describe it. One story like this along with the occasional soft jab at Obama won't overcome decades of profound, half-heartedly veiled liberalism in the eyes of its critics (myself included). That means one of two things. Either the foundation has become so blatantly corrupt and/or dysfunctional that they (the NYT) can no longer turn a blind eye to it for fear of being complicit by their silence, or the Clintons are using the situation to try to make hay about their own scruples.

Can you imagine the story in the NYT in a few months when Hillary interviews (exclusively with the NYT) and talks about how she had no choice but to shut the Foundation down in order to make sure nothing untoward was happening there. It's a better safe than sorry sort of thing. Oh and by the way, I'm running for president. That NYT exclusive story coming early 2014 - exclusive in exchange for planting the seed about possible malfeasance this week in a way that looks impartial and yet journalistically probing.

Yes, I'm a cynic. At least when it comes to anything Clintonian.

UPDATE:  According to Townhall, the NYT site is back, partially.

Your government is fudging the books

Your government is fudging the books America. But don't worry - they're doing it for your own good.
The government doesn't want you to panic - even more than they don't mind breaking their own rules. 

Top 10 Celebrities Sporting Thug Che Guevara Wear

Che Guevara was a thug. He was a brutal murderer,  a racist, and an organizer of execution squads.  But he makes a great t-shirt icon if you are truly clueless.  As we all know, a lot of celebrities are indeed clueless, despite the super-megaphones they wield.  So it's no surprise to see some celebrities  sporting Che Guevara shirts in an attempt to wear their coolness and feel like they'd fit in with a dorm room full of Trotskyites.
Below are the Top 10 celebrities that have been spotted wearing Che material (in ascending order of social influence). 
In no way is this list meant to imply there is any level of coolness to those who wear Che. He was a thug. Wearing him means you are clueless, a communist or a brute.  There is no hipster coolness to it, despite what any cool hipster will tell you.

August 12, 2013

Deconstructing Favreau (part 2)

About a two weeks back I started a task that turned out to be a lot more involved than I had originally thought, so I ended up breaking it into smaller parts.  I'd hoped to get back to this sooner in order to maintain some continuity but at least I'm getting back to it now.  Better late than never the old saying goes.

Picking up where I left off critiquing Jon Favreau's  complaints poorly disguised as a prescription for what ails the GOP, here's the next batch of misleading diatribe from the former Obama speechwriter;
The conservatives have finally purified the Republican Party, dispatching moderate infidels in primary after primary, demanding fealty to their agenda of huge tax cuts and drastically lower spending. They have used their sizable numbers in Congress to help realize that agenda, with periodic assists from a president who has always been more fiscally responsible than his enemies would admit.

Today the tax burden on the vast majority of families is lower than it’s been in decades. Domestic spending outside of Medicare and Medicaid is the lowest it’s been in more than half a century. A public sector that has grown under the last four presidents has significantly contracted under Barack Obama. And deficits are falling at the fastest pace in 60 years.

Conservatives remain unsatisfied. They want more tax cuts. More spending cuts. And I’m picking up signals that they’re not entirely thrilled with the Affordable Care Act.
 Again paragraph by paragraph, let's deconstruct what Favreau writes. In fact, I won't even make it through the first sentence without a bunch of criticisms.  Watch.

August 11, 2013

10 Debate "Rules" Obama has broken

Below are the "Ten Commandments" of rational debate.  President Obama often claims he "welcomes the debate" over this issue or that issue.  But he doesn't follow these basic rules of rational debate.  As a lawyer with a mere three years of practice, focused on civil rights, he clearly didn't have the time or need to develop ways to debate properly. 

Take a look at these rules and then I will provide examples of the president violating each rule in turn. Rhetorical king or just an ill-equipped debate bully? You decide.


August 10, 2013

Was Sarah Palin Right?

Apparently, she was. So says Bill Whittle and also, someone else you might not expect.

Saturday Learning Series - Six Sigma (part 10,000)

Yet another in the MIT lecture series on Six Sigma, this lecture entitled Implementing Lean.  The previous lecture can be found here.  Next week we'll be moving off of Six Sigma onto another subject.

August 9, 2013

Friday Musical Interlude Bonus Material

Rubber Band Man from The Spinners.  A song that I thank the movie Stripes for bringing to my attention.

Friday Musical Interlude - Vietnam

From reggae artist Jimmy Cliff, the 1970 Vietnam protest tune, titled simply Vietnam. Bob Dylan apparently has said this is the greatest protest song he has ever heard.  Politics of the song aside, it's just a catchy tune, with some sorrowful lyrics. 

August 8, 2013

Why I won't be seeing Elysium

Here's the trailer for the new sci-fi movie out this summer, Elysium.  Following the video, are the reasons I won't be seeing it and some other thoughts on Hollywood moviemaking.

The movie clearly contains an Occupy Wall Street type message.  It's socialism dressed up as science fiction, meant to inspire young skulls full of mush (not originally a Rush Limbaugh quote) into thinking about the world in progressive terms. 
That aside, it stars Matt Damon who regularly trashes conservatives in a way that I'm sure he thinks is intellectual but is just half a step smarter than most characters played by the equally liberal Woody Harrelson. Damon alone is enough reason to skip this film.
I also suspect that the movie, even on a sci-fi level is going to disappoint.  There is no Matrix moment to be seen in the preview.  And I don't think the movie will be any different.  Not to mention, a simplistic plot really doesn't stir the imagination, which is a big thing for me.  Having seen a lot of films during my lifetime, I can't watch a movie without some unexpected plot twists and far too many of the Hollywood fare these days are formulaic.
So, not seeing it. I'll be watching Breaking Bad's last episodes instead.

Random Thought for the Day

I like minimalism, but I can only take so much of it.
~Dean L

August 7, 2013

Obama's Russian Waffling

Obama apparently has evolved not just on gay marriage, but on Russia as well. In 2007 he felt it was necessary to seek a global ban on fissile material for weapons.  Since then he has done nothing to stop Iran. Evolved. In 2007 he said Russia is not an ally or enemy of the United States.  But in 2013 he thinks Russia is prone to Cold War thinking from time to time. That would make them I suppose, an occasional enemy.  In 2008 he wanted a missile defense system to protect from Iran, but not Russia necessarily. He was worried however about an aggressive Russia in 2008.  That didn't stop him from backing down on missile defense in 2012 when he thought he was not on microphone with Medvedev.  So Iran was not a nuclear threat and clearly the Russians were no longer aggressive in 2012. Evolved? And in 2013 Obama decided that there was no need to meet with Putin directly at the Group 20 economic summit upcoming. He's been put out by Russian non-co-operation. Evolved?
How about confused, naïve and all over the map?

In an October 2007 speech in Chicago, Obama said if elected he would work to "take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair-trigger alert, and to dramatically reduce the stockpiles of our nuclear weapons and material." He said he would seek a "global ban on the production of fissile material for weapons" and an expansion of "the U.S.-Russian ban on intermediate-range missiles."


President Obama said in April 2007 that Russia is "neither our enemy nor close ally," and said the United States "shouldn't shy away from pushing for more democracy, transparency, and accountability" there.
In a September 2008 presidential debate, Obama said the United States needs missile defense, "because of Iran and North Korea and the potential for them to obtain or to launch nuclear weapons," but stressed the need to also increase spending on nuclear nonproliferation.


In a September 2008 presidential debate, Obama said, "our entire Russian approach has to be evaluated, because a resurgent and very aggressive Russia is a threat to the peace and stability of the region."
“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space,” Mr. Obama could be heard saying to Mr. Medvedev, according a reporter from ABC News, who was traveling with the president.

“Yeah, I understand,” the departing Russian president said. “I understand your message about space. Space for you ... .”

Mr. Obama then elaborated in a portion of the exchange picked up by the cameras: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”
In a rare diplomatic rebuke, President Barack Obama on Wednesday canceled his Moscow summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The decision reflected both U.S. anger over Russia's harboring of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and growing frustration within the Obama administration over what it sees as Moscow's stubbornness on other key issues, including missile defense and human rights.

Obama will still attend the Group of 20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, but a top White House official said the president had no plans to hold one-on-one talks with Putin while there. Instead of visiting Putin in Moscow, the president will add a stop in Sweden to his early September travel itinerary.

Obama, who is traveling in California, said in an interview Tuesday that he was "disappointed" by Russia's move to grant Snowden asylum for one year. But he said the move also reflected the "underlying challenges" the U.S. faces in dealing with Moscow.

"There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality," Obama said in an interview on NBC's "The Tonight Show."
There are a lot of other examples of  Obama's inability to forecast events and motivations of others, as well as an inability to stick to a strategic imperative.  Clinton's reset button is a symbolic example of saying one thing without backing it up or understanding the context of their own statement.  Guess what Hillary, Russia had to hit that reset button with you and they were not inclined to do so. Détente requires two parties participating, not just one.  And as a result of all of these statements about diplomacy and resetting relations, without a guiding principle (except maybe capitulation), the administration looks like it is running from problem to problem in crisis-management mode trying to put out fires in a reactive, unthoughtful manner. It looks like waffling on Russia but it is far worse. It's an incapacity to lead.

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