Monday, April 30, 2007

Massachusetts needs more Deval Patricks? - Well, there's a kernel of truth here on the Plank: "As I noted before, Massachusetts' political class is arrogantly unresponsive to the will of the voters. The state legislature has scuttled the people's will on liberal and conservative causes ranging from public financing of elections to term limits. These know-nothings believe they know best." What a great state! I wonder why everybody's leaving...
Not a rave review - Christopher Hitchens on "A Loser's History": "George Tenet's sniveling, self-justifying new book is a disgrace."
The accumulation of empty promises

From Edward Glaeser in the Boston Globe: "Cleaning up the public pension system"

Today, public employees have been promised almost $13 billion more in pension benefits than Massachusetts has set aside money to pay for. We owe another $13 billion for other post-retirement benefits to public workers. The average US state funds 83 percent of its pension liability. The Commonwealth has funded only 73 percent of its debt, and a lot of cities of towns are in much worse shape. Quincy has funded only 58 percent of its pension liability; Springfield has funded less than half. These pension debts reflect the high benefit levels in places like Quincy, which is a leader in six-figure pensions.
What's the solution? The transparency of defined-contribution plans such as 401(k)s that allows public workers to earn their way to retirement instead of depending on the shaky promises of the government:

Moreover, since pensions vest slowly, they create an artificial incentive for workers to become long-term employees of local government. The average public employee in Quincy is 47 years old. Experience is great, but there is also much to be said for the Roman ideal of Cincinnatus, who went back and forth between saving the republic and plowing his fields. We should have a system that is as friendly to those who would serve the state briefly as it is to those who want to spend their entire careers in government.

Moving to defined-contribution plans for new public employees would be a step in the right direction. In the private sector, defined-contribution plans are ubiquitous. They allow workers to move more readily across firms. They make payment more transparent and reduce the risks posed by unfunded liabilities. Defined-contribution plans for public employees would have the same benefits.
The Big Three automakers played the same game by offering lavish benefits in exchange for keeping wages under control. But this is just borrowing against the future since wages are expensive but promises are cheap.
Whither the GOP - Oak Leaf over on Polipundit has a post on the drift and fade of the Republican party.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

But he got a nice advance - George Tenet's book hasn't hit the bookstands yet and already he's being knocked for inventing conversations and dereliction of duty.
The end justifies the surrender - Jeff Jacoby asks "What drives the Democrats?" and concludes that it's all politics: "Democrats, all smiles, prefer to lose the war and win the campaign. They're not alone. In Iraq, Al Qaeda is smiling, too."
Amazing Race update - The never-ending Race

When are they going to put us out of our misery and end this gimmicky All-Stars edition of the Amazing Race? We've now had two back-to-back non-elimination legs and this season has stretched my patience to the breaking point. It's not as bad as the execrable Family Edition, but it's a close second.

Teams must travel from Macau to Guam and find a U.S.military base. The Blondies make the first ferry off the island and book the first flight from Hong Kong to Guam; everybody but Oswald & Danny make this flight but they're connecting on the same flight from Tokyo to Guam, assuming they can make a tight connection. Back from commercial, they're on the plane so now everybody's bunched on the same flight to Guam.

Once there, teams grab marked cars and race to the base which doesn't open until 7am. A military escort takes Racers to an Air Force control tower and they run up the stairs. On top, it's the Detour: Care Package or Engine Care. Teams may either prepare a food package to drop from a C-17 cargo plane, or clean off the engines of a B-17 bomber. Everybody chooses to clean the bomber except Charla & Mirna who instantly tick off the Air Force officer by tossing stuff into the care boxes without much care. Dustin & Kandace try to charm the cleaning sergeant but he wants his plane cleaned. After they finish, they need to drive from the Air Force base to the Naval base. Charla & Mirna finish the Detour last even though they keep asking the pilot of the bomber to fly faster.

At the Naval Base, it's the Roadblock: using a GPS, one team member must find a search & rescue expert (a "downed pilot") who will then direct them to another position where they will set off a smoke bomb for helicopter extraction. Team Blondie finishes first and Kandace (or is it Dustin?) gets hoisted up first. Danielle finds her pilot next while Charla can't seem to figure out which direction to walk, once again confirming my belief that Charla & Mirna can't do anything right. The military escort with Charla tells her no fewer than four times to not touch the buttons on the GPS. The Blondies head to the Pit Stop at Fort Soledad.

Oswald finishes the Roadblock just behind Charla so it's looking very likely that Oswald & Danny will be eliminated because they're carrying over a 30-minute penalty from last week's non-elimination leg. No need to wait: they arrive last and are eliminated

Final standings:

#1 - Dustin & Kandace Prize: ATV
#2 - Eric & Danielle
#3 - Charla & Mirna
#4 - Oswald & Danny - PHILIMINATED

Next week: The finale, finally.

Extra - Pat will have his recap up before you know it.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Highly educated babysitters - Joanne Jacobs has a post titled "Why teachers quit" about why so many teachers pack it in after a couple years. The short answer is that they're under too much stress enforcing classroom discipline.

Personal story: over the years, people have often suggested to me that they thought I would make a great teacher. As a lark, I even went so far to take the Massachusetts certification test for teachers, which I aced. But I keep hearing stories like this and I realize I'll never be able to hack it. Too bad, that.
Bears beets Battlestar Galactica - Jim as Dwight on "The Office."
Sunday morning lineup - Tim Russert will spent an hour with Joe Biden, which is how long it takes for that guy to say "hello." Condi Rice is making the rounds, also.
A billion angry stockholders - The Economist has an article about the burgeoning Chinese stock market titled: "The people's republic in the grip of popular capitalism - Tens of millions of Chinese are risking their shirts in a stockmarket frenzy. If it goes wrong, things could get nasty." I wonder what Mao would think about the 91 million accounts held in the Chinese stock exchange? It's not an affirmation of socialism.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Big fish in London town - According to the UK Times, Al-Qaeda operative Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi is believed to be the mastermind behind the 7/7 bombings in London.

Extra - Much, much more from Allahpundit: "Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi was captured by the CIA as he was attempting to travel back to his native country, Iraq. He was going to Iraq, officials say, to "manage" al Qaeda's operations, including plots on Western interests outside of Iraq."
"Reconsider your position before it's too late. For us and for yourselves." - Via Pajamas Media, Iraqi Omar Fadhil asks Congress to think twice about the surrender legislation: "The democrats just offered al-Qaeda victory on a silver plate. For free. An imaginary victory for sure, for now, but it can still be used by al-Qaeda to promote their ideology of death and attract more recruits." Read it all.
Social Security: the retirement package so good, they had to make it mandatory

Here's the president of the Club for Growth on personal accounts for Social Security:

The benefits of personal accounts over the current system can be illustrated with a numerical example. Let’s take a hypothetical 25-year-old male earning $32,000 a year with average wage growth. Under the current system, he will receive $2,780 per month when he retires, or a measly -0.72 percent return on his contributions (according to the handy calculations of the Heritage Foundation). Now imagine that our hypothetical worker invests the retirement portion of his payroll taxes in a bundle of stocks and bonds, earning a modest 4.9 percent return. When he retires at the ripe age of 67, he will have an account with his name on it worth $1.1 million, or $9,546 per month, ready to be spent on that cabin in the mountains he always wanted.

So the debate over Social Security comes down to one simple question: Would you rather have $2,780 a month in your retirement or $9,546 a month?
Personal accounts have the added benefit of keeping money out of the hands of the government where, inevitably, it will be mishandled and misspent. The government has been able to live beyond its means by masking the true size of the budget deficit by using the Social Security surplus, which is converted into government securities. When the bill comes due in 2017, it's going to be a shocker.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

He'll fix your icebox and wireless, too - Here's a profile of one of America's last typewriter repairmen. They still make typewriters? And fix them when broke? Weird. (HT: Fark)
Chris Dodd?!? No way! - Mark Coffey grades the Democrats' debate tonight and declares the virtually unknown Connecticut Senator (the other one) as the upset winner.
Must be nice to be popular - Bill Whittle rubs it in: "To my utter amazement and deep embarrassment, I discovered that even with three or four months between postings, I was still receiving around 1500 hits a day." How super for you.
The nightmare scenario

Was it really just a year ago that Republicans controlled every branch of government? I'm skeptical the Republicans can hold the White House in 2008 if only because Americans rarely keep the same party in power for three terms (George Bush Sr. being a recent exception in a phenomenon known as "Reagan's third term.") But now political observers are floating the scenario that the Democrats could capture a filibuster-proof 60 vote majority in one or two political cycles:

Controlling 60 seats is the holy grail in the Senate. It allows the majority party to block filibusters from the minority and truly run the chamber.

The last time a party held 60 or more seats was three decades ago when Democrats had 61 seats in the 95th Congress (1977-1979). But, the combination of a toxic political environment for Republicans and a relatively small number of Democratic vulnerabilities has skilled observers -- including Fix friend and Roll Call columnist Stu Rothenberg -- starting to talk about the possibility of Democrats getting to 60 in the next two or four years.
Oh. My. Heck. Of course, two years is an eternity in politics but there's no shortage of reasons why the Republicans blew their hard-fought majority after just twelve years.
It's not "Lady Chatterley's Lover" - From the Boston Globe: "Plastic bags may be banned in Boston" It's a good thing there aren't any other big problems in Boston to worry about.
Broder slams Harry Reid

From today's WashPost, David Broder is not so enthralled with the Senate's top Democrat:

Instead of reinforcing the important proposition -- defined by the Iraq Study Group-- that a military strategy for Iraq is necessary but not sufficient to solve the myriad political problems of that country, Reid has mistakenly argued that the military effort is lost but a diplomatic-political strategy can still succeed.

The Democrats deserve better, and the country needs more, than Harry Reid has offered as Senate majority leader.
Can you believe this guy's a Mormon?

Extra - Al Qaeda quotes Harry Reid.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Entitlements in the U.S.A.

Every year the Board of Trustees for Social Security and Medicare releases a report on the status of the programs. Here is the executive summary:

Each year the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds report on the current and projected financial status of the two programs. This message summarizes our 2007 Annual Reports.

The financial condition of the Social Security and Medicare programs remains problematic; we believe their currently projected long run growth rates are not sustainable under current financing arrangements. Social Security's current annual surpluses of tax income over expenditures will soon begin to decline and then turn into rapidly growing deficits as the baby boom generation retires. Medicare's financial status is even worse. Medicare's Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund is already expected to pay out more in hospital benefits this year than it receives in taxes and other dedicated revenues. The growing annual deficits in both programs are projected to exhaust HI reserves in 2019 and Social Security reserves in 2041. In addition, the Medicare Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) Trust Fund that pays for physician services and the new prescription drug benefit will continue to require general revenue financing and charges on beneficiaries that grow faster than the economy and beneficiary incomes over time.

The drawdown of Social Security and HI Trust Fund reserves and the general revenue transfers into SMI will place mounting pressure on the Federal budget. In fact, this pressure is already evident. For the first time, a "Medicare funding warning" is being triggered, signaling that non-dedicated sources of revenues-primarily general revenues- will soon account for more than 45 percent of Medicare's outlays. By law, this warning requires that the President propose, and the Congress consider, remedial action.

We are increasingly concerned about inaction on the financial challenges facing the Social Security and Medicare programs. The longer we wait to address these challenges, the more limited will be the options available, the greater will be the required adjustments, and the more severe the potential detrimental economic impact on our nation.
The news making the rounds is that the year of bankruptcy has been extended out a year for both programs: 2019 for Medicare and 2041 for Social Security. But things are about to get real vertical on the cost chart (entitlement spending as a percentage of GDP):

In 2006, the combined costs of Social Security (blue line) and Medicare (red line) added up to a manageable 7.3% of GDP. But things are about to get ugly:

Social Security outgo amounted to 4.2 percent of GDP in 2006 and is projected to increase to 6.3 percent of GDP in 2081. Medicare's cost was smaller in 2006-3.1 percent of GDP- but is projected to surpass the cost of Social Security in 2028, growing to 11.3 percent of GDP in 2081 when it will be 80 percent larger than Social Security's cost. In 2081, the combined cost of the programs will represent 17.6 percent of GDP. As a point of comparison, in 2006 all Federal receipts amounted to 18.5 percent of GDP.
Which reaffirms my long-standing argument for entitlement reform sooner rather than later: unless something is done, entitlements will crowd out all the spending for things we call the "government." Simply put: if Social Security and Medicare payments equal all incoming federal taxes, there's nothing left.

Extra - Bull Dog Pundit notes that the AARP wants more.

More - Statement from the Treasury Secretary.

And this - Let's wait for the iceberg:

"I don't think we will make any substantive progress on reform until a crisis is looming," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's, an economic forecasting company. "Reform may be prompted by some sort of financial crisis as investors respond to the worsening budget deficits."
So there you have it: reform will be driven by Chinese bankers.

Monday, April 23, 2007

There can be only one - Michael Barone writes that the Democrats are in a dilemma between ending the war and funding the troops. (More from Betsy and Hot Air.) I'm getting the feeling that the Democrats and getting squeezed as a time of choosing approaches, which is why Harry Reid gave another red meat speech for the anti-war left before he caves in on a clean funding bill.

More - The Las Vegas Review Journal echoes my opinion:

Thus, the Democrats' careful strategy requires them to appear to oppose Mr. Bush's ongoing occupation of Iraq (to please their pacifist base), without taking any concrete, "binding" actions to change the status quo.

Enter Sen. Reid, flopping around in big red shoes like Bozo the Clown.
(HT: New Editor)
Buy some 42" plasma TVs! - So says Sheryl Crow, circa 2005.
Overplaying their hand - From the Boston Globe "A dangerous game of chicken for Democrats": "This time, if Democrats insist on their policy and public sentiment rallies behind them, the GOP collapse on national security issues will be complete. If, however, the public blames Democrats for risking troops in Iraq, congressional Democrats will have committed a political blunder nearly as dramatic as the invasion of Iraq itself. So who should swerve first? The lessons of 1995 suggest that Democrats today are on the verge of a major mistake."
Sheryl Crow rips off another artist

From the 1976 novelty hit for Larry Groce, "Junk Food Junkie"

At lunch time you can always find me
At the whole earth vitamin bar.
Just sucking on my plain white yogurt
From my hand grown pottery jar.

And sipping little hand pressed cider
With a carrot stick for dessert.
And wiping my face in a natural way
On the sleeve of my peasant shirt.
And here's the environmentally-friendly Sheryl Crow with her unique idea to save the planet:

Crow (4/19): I also like the idea of not using paper napkins, which happen to be made from virgin wood and represent the height of wastefulness. I have designed a clothing line that has what's called a "dining sleeve." The sleeve is detachable and can be replaced with another "dining sleeve," after usage. The design will offer the "diner" the convenience of wiping his mouth on his sleeve rather than throwing out yet another barely used paper product. I think this idea could also translate quite well to those suffering with an annoying head cold.
Hippies smell.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Amazing Race update - Eric & Danielle survive a double whammy

Teams start out the next leg in Hong Kong and, if you'll recall, Eric & Danielle need to come in first or incur a 30-minute penalty at the Pit Stop. This has got to be the last episode before the season finale, which can't come too soon for me.

Teams must travel by turbo-ferry to Macau and then find a guy with a rickshaw. Oswald & Danny are dead broke with only the cash provided for this leg. Once in Macau, teams need to find the tallest building in town which is the Macau Tower. Caution: yield ahead. The Beauty Queens used the Yield before in the Race so they're obviously nervous about payback. However, in a twist I never saw coming, Oswald & Danny ask Team Blondie for some cash in exchange for their Yield power. For $45, they bribe them to delay Eric & Danielle, who are perceived as the bigger threat. Wow, that's harsh.

Once at Macau Tower, it's the Roadblock and one team member must do "the world's highest skyjump" and leap off the 280m tower. There's a lot of screaming and the Blondies go first then head to the next clue at a Chinese garden. Eric & Danielle are not at all amused to see that they've been yielded twice. Bleeped out expletives are used.

Once at the garden, it's the Detour: Noodle or Dragon. Teams may either go to a noodle factory and make some pasta or carry a dragon head to the docks and find a boat. The dragon Detour is only three-quarters of a mile to carry a bulky head but three teams take the noodles. Oswald & Danny get lost on their taxi drive to the dragon and fall behind. Team Blondies finish just as Eric & Danielle arrive; Charla & Mirna cut their noodles too thick and fall behind Eric & Danielle. When things get tight in the Race, Mirna reveals her ugly side and this time is no exception as she berates Charla relentlessly.

The Blondies go to their next clue which is attached to a tiny car, which they must drive to the Pit Stop. The Dragon detour seems to be the wrong choice after all as Oswald & Danny fall back to last place. Never fear, Charla & Mirna who as I like to say can't do anything right promptly drive their mini-car into a pole and then can't figure out how to get the car into reverse. Hilariously, they get out and try to push the car backwards (while still in gear, apparently) as angry Macauans (?) honk their displeasure at the crazy couple blocking the intersection. Eventually, they get help from a taxi driver and head back onto the road.

Meanwhile, Dustin & Kandace arrive as team #1 so they're heading to the finale. Eric & Danielle are #2, but now it's a half-hour wait to see if the other teams can make it. Charla & Mirna arrive next but it looks like Oswald & Danny got dropped off at the wrong entrance. Can they still make it in time?

NO! Eric & Danielle chew on fingernails and wait out the penalty and check in as team #3. Oswald & Danny went from first to worst and arrive to the mat last. But it's yet another non-elimination leg and now Oswald & Danny must finish first or incur a 30-minute penalty. They're also going to incur the rage of Eric & Danielle who are majorly ticked about the Yield.

Final standings:

#1 - Dustin & Kandace - Prize: Waverunners
#2 - Charla & Mirna
#3 - Eric & Danielle
#4 - Danny & Oswald - Non-elimination leg again

Next week: The end, at last.

Extra - Check out Brainster for Pat's recap of tonight's episode.
Always have a friend look over your resume

From CNBC: "'Weekends are for drinking' and other things not to say in your resume"

5. Candidate specified that his availability was limited because Friday, Saturday and Sunday were "drinking time".
6. Candidate included a picture of herself in a cheerleading uniform.
7. Candidate drew a picture of a car on the outside of the envelope and said it was the hiring manager's gift.
8. Candidate's hobbies included sitting on a levee at night watching alligators.
Hmmm...I like #6. (HT: Fark)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Headline of the Day: "Union convention shut down by strikers"
The eternal scapegoat

As Zimbabwe spirals down into famine, Anglican bishops voice their support for insane dictator Robert Mugabe. But why is everybody starving?

The 14 Anglican bishops blamed the worsening plight of poor Zimbabweans largely on Western economic sanctions.
Everybody loves to hear about "me" - "This American Life Completes Documentation Of Liberal, Upper-Middle-Class Existence"
Hip-hop hypocrisy - Colbert King in the WashPost: "Put me in the camp of those who implore Sen. Hillary Clinton to give it back -- "it" being the reported $800,000 that's sitting in her presidential campaign coffers thanks to a fundraiser hosted in her honor March 31 in the Pinecrest, Fla., home of a huge Clinton fan who refers to himself as Timbaland." To their credit, the Rutgers women's basketball team refused to play along with Hillary.
More on the most powerful Democrat in the nation

Here's Jeff Goldstein over at Protein Wisdom:

Worse, Reid is using precisely the calculus terrorists depend upon to formulate policy: successful terror attacks and deaths are proof that fighting terror can’t work. Meaning that all it takes for the US to turn tail and run is its military inability to prevent carefully staged terror attacks meant as spectacle to break US and Western morale.

And so long as that is the accepted calculus for our willingness to pursue a conflict to its conclusion, the US can never win another war - nor should it even try.
And here's Bill Kristol in Time:

Earlier this month, the "surge" was beginning visibly to work. Al Qaeda fought back, with massive slaughter of civilians, whose purpose was in part to undercut support for the war against al Qaeda on the home front. Harry Reid followed script.
Looks like we're going back to Fortress America.
He was nuts - From the NY Times "Law was overlooked in gun sale to campus killer": "Under federal law, the Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho should have been prohibited from buying a gun after a Virginia court declared him to be a danger to himself in late 2005 and sent him for psychiatric treatment, a state official and several legal experts said Friday."

Friday, April 20, 2007

Harry Reid is a contemptible SOB

Sometime before the Democrats recaptured Congress in 2006 I told a college friend that I merely dislike Nancy Pelosi but I loathe Harry Reid. At his cold heart, Reid is a weasel cut from the Chuck Schumer cloth who puts politics first and country second.

So when Reid said the war in Iraq is already "lost," I didn't view it as a gaffe where a politician accidentally tells the truth. I believe Reid is throwing some red meat to the nutcase Left before the Democrats cave on the Iraq funding resolution. It's all a show because Harry Reid and most Democrats don't have the courage of their convictions. Rick Moran hits it square on:

How can you possibly justify continuing to vote for a war that you believe is hopelessly lost? Our young men are dying in numbers not seen since the first weeks of the war and the Democrats are cowering in the corner, afraid of their own political shadow. The only option open to the Democrats if they truly believe the war is "lost" is to scrap the deal on the emergency supplemental and only vote for funds that would withdraw American troops from combat. It is a mystery why they are hesitating in this regard. The most recent Gallup poll shows that nearly 70% of Americans agree with Harry Reid - that the surge is a failure. How much more political cover do you need? When are you people going to grow a set and stand up for your principles rather than try more trickery and back door shenanigans?
I don't believe for a second that Harry Reid "accidentally" blurted out his true position on Iraq. It's all a kabuki dance for the MoveOn and Kos Kids to keep them happy while appealing to Middle America by funding the war, while clucking disappointed tongues. Here's the real Harry Reid gaffe:

"We're going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war. Senator Schumer has shown me numbers that are compelling and astounding."
Just don't question his patriotism.

Extra - Mark Levin: "Reid must resign."

More - Hartford Courant: "Lieberman Scolds Reid For 'War Lost' Remark"

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Breaking the "Ismail Ax" riddle - Nightline may have traced it back to a beat poem from the 60s. (HT: Free Republic)
"Unfair and overstated" - Ace is right to push back Steyn on this point: "Heroism is defined by actions, not intentions or desires. And if cheapens true heroism to spout off as we are all just chomping at the bit for our moment of courage under fire."
Red flags

NY Daily News: "Everyone feared he'd flip"

"We always joked we were just waiting for him to do something," said another classmate, Stephanie Derry. "But when I got the call it was Cho who had done this, I started crying, bawling."
The warning signs were evident for all to see.
VT psychopath - This just in via MSNBC "Gunman sent package to NBC News": "Sometime after he killed two people in a Virginia university dormitory but before he slaughtered 30 more in a classroom building Monday morning, Cho Seung-Hui mailed NBC News a large package, including photographs and videos, lamenting that “this didn’t have to happen,” the network said Wednesday."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tragedy at Virginia Tech - Wikipedia has a continuously updated entry with all the latest details on the shootings at Virginia Tech.

Fox News story

Free Republic thread which starts with discussion of the earlier shooting before quickly turning to reports of multiple shots across campus.

Gateway Pundit has many links.

Events as they unfold at Hot Air.

Pajamas Media roundup.

CNN - "Deadliest shooting in U.S. history"

Sunday, April 15, 2007

So it's going to be Rudy Giuliani vs. Not Hillary - Found via the latest Atlantic magazine, here's a study on early presidential polls from the Pew Research Center. It seems that early poll leaders among GOP candidates tend to go on to win the nomination. However, the Democrats only pick the early front-runner 50% of the time and even then it's a current or former vice president (Gore, Mondale).
Whatever - Hillary on the Iraq war resolution: "Yeah, I glanced at it."
Amazing Race update - Everybody was kung-fu racing

The final four teams started out from Kuala Lumpur and needed to head to Hong Kong. Everybody's looking for flights but the airport is completely closed down until at least 4am so teams camp out in front of Malaysia Air and China Air. Danny & Oswald bypass the ticket counter and find the secret service counter in the basement; they're the first team on the 9:15am standby. They also finagle onto the China Air waitlist ahead of the Beauty Queens and Eric & Danielle. At check-in time, only Danny & Oswald manage to get on the China Air flight, leaving the other three behind. The claws come out between Mirna and the Blondies when they're trying to figure out who has the first standby position on the next flight out on Malaysia Air.

After all the sharp words, it doesn't matter since Dustin & Kandace and Charla & Mirna make the next flight out. Eric & Danielle take another flight but it doesn't arrive in Hong Kong for many hours later, so it's very bad for them. Oswald & Danny hit the clue first and it's a Detour/Fast Forward. Since they're far ahead, the Fast Forward is the obvious choice and they head to perform a movie stunt. A lot of safety equipment is involved.

At the Detour, it's Kung-fu fighting or Lost in Translation: teams may either climb a bamboo scaffold or match up a picture of a sign with all the signs on a crowded Hong Kong street. Meanwhile, Danny & Oswald are shown riding in a car that flips over - and that's it. They head to the Pit Stop at the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

The Beauty Queens start climbing the bamboo ladders, throwing good-natured karate chops at the ninjas trying to distract them. They climb up and the next clue directs them to the Old Police Building. Eric & Danielle arrive at the airport just as Charla & Mirna are climbing the scaffold; sadly, Mirna doesn't fall to her death. Thus we get to hear the standard speech about how Charla can do things despite her size. Again.

But wait! Charla & Mirna rush to the ferry taking them to Hong Kong Island but it looks like they took the wrong boat. Now they're heading to some other island which means they're stuck on this ferry until they can get off and turn around. This seems like a pretty significant delay so Eric & Danielle may be able to catch up.

Dustin & Kandace arrive at the Police Headquarters and it's the Roadblock: one team member must kick down doors (kung-fu style!) until they find the room with the next clue. They complete this and then head to Victoria Park to pull model boats across a pond; however, if the Travelocity gnome tips over they need to start over. The Beauty Queens do this easily and head to the Pit Stop.

Charla & Mirna are shown as lost in Hong Kong and then delayed by toll booths, but I'm getting the sinking feeling that it's the standard TAR ruse to give viewers the impression that the last team can catch up. Boy, I hate to see Eric & Danielle go; well, I hate to see Danielle go. But now they're lost and most assuredly destined for elimination. Eric & Danielle stumble into the jockey club but it's a non-elimination leg so they need to finish first on the next leg of the Race or incur a 30-minute penalty.

Final standings:

#1 - Oswald & Danny - Prize: trip (back) to Hong Kong
#2 - Dustin & Kandace
#3 - Charla & Mirna
#4 - Eric & Danielle - Non-elimination leg

Next week - Not the season finale? Ugh.

Extra - Check back at Brainster to see if Pat has his recap up.
Great minds think alike

Here's Jeff Jacoby with "Doubting Doomsday" in today's Boston Globe:

[MIT professor Richard] Lindzen is not the only climate expert to express skepticism about global-warming doomsaying -- not by a long shot. But so pervasive is the alarmist narrative that anyone who dissents from it can expect to be smeared as a shill for polluters or compared to a Holocaust denier. So perhaps Newsweek was just trying to do Lindzen a favor when it ran this credit line following his piece: "Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has always been funded exclusively by the US government. He receives no funding from any energy companies."

The implication is about as subtle as a two-by-four. Apparently Lindzen's scientific and professional credentials aren't enough to lend authority to his views; readers must be explicitly reassured that "energy companies" haven't paid him off.
Exactly the point I made a couple days ago.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

That's good music - I'm watching John Fogerty on "Austin City Limits" right now and that guy can still belt out the tunes. He's an American classic.
Sunday morning lineup - Looks like the big news is that Dick Cheney will be sitting down with Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation.
Fred declares his conservative bona fides

Potential presidential candidate Fred Thompson sez: "Tax cuts mean growth"

The results of the experiment that began when Congress passed a series of tax-rate cuts in 2001 and 2003 are in. Supporters of those cuts said they would stimulate the economy. Opponents predicted ever-increasing budget deficits and national bankruptcy unless tax rates were increased, especially on the wealthy.

In fact, Treasury statistics show that tax revenues have soared and the budget deficit has been shrinking faster than even the optimists projected. Since the first tax cuts were passed, when I was in the Senate, the budget deficit has been cut in half.

Remarkably, this has happened despite the financial trauma of 9/11 and the cost of the War on Terror. The deficit, compared to the entire economy, is well below the average for the last 35 years and, at this rate, the budget will be in surplus by 2010.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this success story is where the increased revenues are coming from. Critics claimed that across-the-board tax cuts were some sort of gift to the rich but, on the contrary, the wealthy are paying a greater percentage of the national bill than ever before.

The richest 1% of Americans now pays 35% of all income taxes. The top 10% pay more taxes than the bottom 60%.

The reason for this outcome is that, because of lower rates, money is being invested in our economy instead of being sheltered from the taxman. Greater investment has created overall economic strength. Job growth is robust, overcoming trouble in the housing sector; and the personal incomes of Americans at every income level are higher than they've ever been.
A related article on Opinion Journal notes that the alternate minimum tax, which was designed to levy the evil "rich" are hitting millions in the middle class also.
Today's least-surprising headline - From Fox News: "North Korea Misses Disarmament Deadline" - "The deadline for North Korea to shut down its main nuclear reactor passed Saturday with no action taken by the communist country, leaving the top U.S. nuclear negotiator to surmise that the momentum had escaped disarmament talks." As I predicted.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Doffing Don - Imus firing: Bad for the Democrats? Now I'm confused: I thought Imus was a rabid right-winger. Never saw the show.

Extra - From Hot Air: "Is Imus responsible for Jon Corzine's car accident?"
Vanishingly small groups - There's Amish computer techs, conservatives in Hollywood, white NBA forwards, and Michael Waltrip fans:

The witness, an 18-year-old college student at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, requested anonymity during a phone interview Wednesday with The Associated Press for fear of reprisal from Waltrip's fan base.
Oh, yeah, they're a tough bunch. Both of them.
The state of French research

Marie Curie, it's not. From the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, here's the great new paper to come out of France: "Champagne Experiences Various Rhythmical Bubbling Regimes in a Flute"

Bubble trains are seen rising gracefully from a few points on the glass wall (called nucleation sites) whenever champagne is poured into a glass. As time passes during the gas-discharging process, the careful observation of some given bubble columns reveals that the interbubble distance may change suddenly, thus revealing different rhythmical bubbling regimes. Here, it is reported that the transitions between the different bubbling regimes of some nucleation sites during gas discharging is a process which may be ruled by a strong interaction between tiny gas pockets trapped inside the nucleation site and/or also by an interaction between the tiny bubbles just blown from the nucleation site.
Somebody must have been really bored at a wedding. But I joke, because silly little papers like this sometimes lead to bigger and better research breakthroughs.
Do as I editorialize, not as I do

The president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO and a rep for the Boston Newspaper Guild implore the Boston Globe to stop that evil practice of outsourcing:

The plane from Bangalore touched down last month and off stepped a group of trainees headed for The Boston Globe -- here only briefly for job training before going back to India and taking 45 Massachusetts jobs with them.

What kind of sense does this make? Not much. According to whom? According to the Globe and The New York Times.
Shipping jobs off to Bangalore? For shame, Boston Globe, for shame.
Old Europe in a tween's body - Michael Barone: "Interestingly, a recent poll shows that Europeans say they would support airstrikes against nuclear-armed Iran. But most Europeans don't want their countries to spend more on defense. They evidently want the United States to do the dirty work of eliminating Iranian nuclear weapons–and to be free to criticize that action themselves. There is a word for this combination of attitudes: adolescent. Teenagers expect their parents to protect them. But they want to be able to gripe about it anyway." (Hat tip: New England Republican)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"That's no moon!" From Fark: Summarize your sex life with a Star Wars quote

Here's mine (via Han Solo): "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've made a lot of special modifications myself."
North Korea pinky-swears it will shut down their nuke reactor

Just as soon as they get their 25-large:

North Korea said it would begin shutting its main nuclear reactor within a day of retrieving about $25 million that had been frozen in a Macao bank because of American sanctions, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico said here on Wednesday.
This threat-and-bribery scam has worked for the Kim regime for decades, and yet here we go again. I'll be astonished if the Norks shut down their reactor in a Biblical day.
CBS strikes again

"Little Big Girl": When Lisa finally admits that her story on her Native American heritage was not completely fact-checked, Homer says "My little girl's just like CBS News". This is a reference to the Killian documents controversy in 2004.

From the WashPost: 'Katie's Notebook' Item Cribbed From Wall Street Journal

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Grab your ankh, it's runnin' time! - Producer Joel Silver plans to remake the 1976 sci-fi classic "Logan's Run"; admit it, you love it.
Bust and boom in Venezuela - Alexandra Starr has a "Letter from Caracas" on the American Scholar. (HT: Arts & Letters)
Global warming? Yeah, big whoop, wanna fight about it?

Here's MIT professor of meteorology Richard Lindzen writing in Newsweek:

Judging from the media in recent months, the debate over global warming is now over. There has been a net warming of the earth over the last century and a half, and our greenhouse gas emissions are contributing at some level. Both of these statements are almost certainly true. What of it? Recently many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe.
Of course, anybody who dares to question the Al Gore viewpoint on climate change must surely be on Exxon's payroll. So it's a telling that Newsweek feels it necessary to conclude the article with this special disclaimer:

Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has always been funded exclusively by the U.S. government. He receives no funding from any energy companies.
Yeah, but he probably doesn't recycle.
That other entitlement program

Social Security is my bete noire because I think it's repugnant on a fundamental level: the program's job is to take money from working families and give it to well-off seniors. It had its place in the wake of the Great Depression when poverty was widespread and the elderly couldn't work at labor-intensive jobs. Nowadays, the senior set holds the most wealth in the country and could easily continue on in a computerized workplace.

But I digress. The other crusher entitlement program is Medicare and while it meets a laudable goal of helping seniors pay for medical costs, like Social Security it can't continue on its current path. From Real Clear Politics, here's Joseph Antos with "Saving Medicare from fiscal breakdown":

With 43 million beneficiaries, Medicare is America's largest health insurance program. Covering hospital stays, doctor visits, and prescription drugs, most seniors -- and many disabled Americans -- depend on it.

But it's also America's most endangered health insurance program. This year it will cost around $430 billion, or about 20 cents of every health dollar spent. Spending is growing more rapidly than revenue, and if current trends continue, the program will be unable to pay for all the hospital bills that come in by 2018.

Quite simply, Medicare is headed for a fiscal breakdown.
Unfortunately, nobody's going to touch this issue with a ten-foot tongue depressor.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Quote of the Day - From an excellent Opinion Journal article on the former president of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid: "Young people like to kiss each other," he says, throwing his hands in the air. "Why not? Just because old people don't do it doesn't mean it's wrong."

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Hyper-super-mega-globo-through-the-looking-glass inflation

How bad is inflation in Zimbabwe? Going by the official exchange rates it costs over $2,000/day to rent a car after you leave a $100,000 deposit. Plus:

The number of Zimbabwe dollars that bought a three-bedroom house with a swimming pool and tennis court in 1990 today - at official exchange rates - would buy a single brick. A lifetime public worker's monthly pension cannot buy a loaf of bread.
A can of soda? $40.
The bottomless hole - Will there ever be an end to the expenses piled on Massachusetts taxpayers for Boston's Big Dig? From the Boston Globe: "The Big Tangle - In the aftermath of the fatal I-90 ceiling collapse, a complicated legal fight has drawn in a phalanx of attorneys to defend pocketbooks and reputations." There are 20 lawyers from the state attorney general's office currently working on the Big Dig cases, a number which will only go up if criminal charges are filed.
Amazing Race update - Recycling papers in Malaysia

We're down to five teams and I don't have disfavor with any of them, save for one. Charla & Mirna deserve a special place in reality TV hell for their condescending behavior towards people all around the globe, Mirna's manic whininess, and their constant arguments which approaches the discourse of screecher monkeys. Who will they annoy tonight (besides the viewing public)? We'll see.

Teams started out from Warsaw, Poland and head all the way to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As usual with a long trip, there's a lot of jockeying for the best flight to the other side of the world and teams are taking a lot of different routes. Uchenna & Joyce have a one hour window for a connecting flight through Frankfurt but because of check-in rules, they miss the flight to Kuala Lumpur. They're forced to scramble for another flight but now it's looking like a one-day delay, which could be deadly for them.

Once in Kuala Lumpur, teams must go to the Batu Caves. Charla & Mirna arrive first to the clue which just directs them to a mosque ten miles away, along with a Yield. This means that one team may delay a team behind them for an hour, if they choose. At the clue, they find the Detour: Artistic Expression or Cookie Confection. Teams may either make patterned cloth or search through boxes of cookies for one with a licorice center. As Charla & Mirna start in on the cookies, all the other teams are scattered throughout the capital of Malaysia.

Dustin & Kandace, those sweet beauty queens, decide to yield Eric & Danielle which ticks them off. I'm sure that if Team Blonde knew that Uchenna & Joyce are essentially out of the Race, they wouldn't have made a new set of enemies. Oswald & Danny head to the cookie pile while Dustin & Kandace decide to make patterned sheets, which I think is the better Detour choice. Sure enough, after commercial we see Charla & Mirna giving up with the cookies to make sheets.

Team Blonde finishes first and heads to the next clue while Oswald & Danny argue over Detour choices while chomping cookies. Dustin & Kandace hit the Roadblock: one team member must collect used newspapers on the back of a bicycle cart. They do it every quickly and head to the Pit Stop. Meanwhile, there has been absolutely no mention of Uchenna & Joyce in a half-hour.

Mirna finishes the papers pretty quickly also, followed by Danielle. Danny seems to be having a lot of trouble in the heat and they finish in fourth place. Finally, we see Uchenna & Joyce heading to the next clue box but the clue merely says: "Go to the Pit Stop." So they're gone but we can't feel too badly for them since they won a million dollars in a previous season.

Final standings:

#1 - Dustin & Kandace - Prize: a Retro scooter
#2 - Charla & Mirna
#3 - Eric & Danielle
#4 - Oswald & Danny
#5 - Uchenna & Joyce - PHILIMINATED

Next week: The final four flips cars.

Extra - Pat at Brainster will have his recap up soon enough.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy Easter - "Be not affrighted. Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him."
Sunday morning lineup - For once, Tim Russert will meet the press; meanwhile my junior Senator, some guy named John Kerry, will be on This Week.
Oh. My. Heck. - Nancy Pelosi came this close to being the next President of the United States.
Tip of the Day - Always wear your seat belt (HT: Fark)

Friday, April 06, 2007

How did the golfers from Saturn fare? - This is an odd headline: "Jupiter's Wetterich tied for Masters lead after two rounds" They have that gravity advantage.
I had #6 although it was the "4A" version - Via PC World: "The 10 worst PCs of all time"
We won't be seeing those annoying Vonage commercials for too much longer - From CNN "Vonage lawyer: Ruling a 'bullet to the head'": "Vonage Holdings Corp. cannot add new customers while it appeals a finding that it infringed Verizon Communications Inc. patents for making phone calls over the Internet, a federal judge ruled Friday." Woo-hoo, woo-hoo-hoo.
The taxman cometh

How much does it cost us to navigate our taxes? From USA Today blog:

This year, individuals and companies will spend about $300 billion, according to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, on tax preparation costs. To put that in perspective, that is a 20% levy on top of the $1.5 trillion they will actually pay in taxes.
Adding insult to injury, as it were. Here's a funny story (that I may have told before): a couple years ago, I had some tricky tax calculations to make in part because I live in Western Massachusetts but work in Connecticut. So I went to an H&R Block one afternoon with my typical ripped-out jeans and a ratty sweatshirt to see how much it would cost to get my federal and two state tax returns done. The figure quoted was more than a $100 (I think it was $120) and I just held my hand out for my receipts and said: "Give 'em back."

But then the woman followed me to the door and said in a whisper: "We have special rates for low-income filers." Whoops! I really should get some better clothes.

(Hat tip to Willisms)
The fever swamp - From Gateway Pundit: "Daily Kos Posts Ghastly Anti-Semitic Screed Complete With Cartoons"

Reading Kos or listening to Air America is like drinking hatred from a firehose. Infected with profanity, there's never anything approaching a constructive dialogue over at the Left's most popular blog. Shine on, Kos Kidz, shine on.

More - From LGF: "The protocols of the Daily Kos"
Probing the depths of European resolve

It's a shallow pool. Here's Charles Krauthammer on "Britain's humiliation - and Europe's": "You would think maintaining international order means, at least, challenging acts of piracy. No challenge here. Instead, a quiet capitulation."

Also from Slate: "How Blair botched the Iran hostage crisis"
UMass students do something right

From the Boston Globe: "UMass students aim to revoke honorary degree for Mugabe"

Student leaders at the University of Massachusetts at Boston are calling on trustees to revoke an honorary degree given more than 20 years ago to Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, who is increasingly scorned worldwide for what many consider a brutal and bloody regime.

The request, which the Undergraduate Student Senate passed unanimously Wednesday, will be presented to trustees at their June meeting. Should the trustees approve the request, it will be the first time the board has revoked an honorary degree.
It was the very least they could do.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Lie back and think of England - Roundups of the British sailors' return to London from Gateway Pundit, Jules Crittenden, and Pajamas Media, along with multiple posts from Expat Yank.
And in Zimbabwe - The UK Guardian is reporting in Friday editions that the U.S. admitted it is funding the opposition in Zimbabwe: "The US admitted openly for the first time yesterday that it was actively working to undermine Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe."

Extra - From the Economist: "Africa's Titanic problem"
"Foolish" - That's how the WashPost describes Nancy Pelosi's "pratfall" in the Middle East. Also, Mona Charen thinks that Pelosi's wearing of a headscarf (hajib?) is a setback for feminism: "She had no business conducting her own foreign policy of course, but if she did have to go, she should have done so holding her uncovered head high as the representative of liberated, western womanhood."

As arguably the most powerful woman on Earth - third in line for the U.S. Presidency - did Nancy Pelosi bother to raise the issue of women's rights in Saudi Arabia, where women aren't allowed to drive? Or was it just easier to undermine U.S. and Israeli foreign policy? You chicks must be beaming with pride now.

Update - Well, color me contradicted: "Pelosi asks Saudis about lack of women in politics"
Unbelievable pettiness

I'm simply agog over this latest story: the Democrats want an expedited investigation by the General Accounting Office over the newly appointed ambassador to Belgium.

Democrats opposed to President Bush's nomination of Sam Fox as the new U.S. ambassador to Belgium posed a new challenge Thursday, charging that the fact Fox will serve without pay makes him a 'volunteer,' and that the government cannot accept his unpaid services.

Democrats are vehemently against the appointment and are investigating a new twist in the former Swiftboat Veterans for Truth contributor's appointment.

It is possible Fox might now be, as a "volunteer", in violation of another U.S. law, Democrats charge, in his new position as an ambassador.
Remember when the Democrats stormed Congress with their "100 Hours" of populist legislation? (Still waiting on that minimum wage bill, BTW). Since then it's been subpoenas, investigations, and this kind of smallness from the gang that takes its orders, ironically, from MoveOn.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Another public pension funding folly - Bull Dog Pundit has the full story on New Jersey's teachers' pension plan. It was too expensive to fund, so the state...didn't. "As I said before, New Jersey, like many states, robbed Peter to pay Paul for a very long time. But now Paul needs more money, and there aren’t many Peter’s left to rob anymore."
Ahmadinejad - what a swell guy!

From the Simpsons:

Bart: A nanny?
Homer: But how am I supposed to pay for that?
Lisa: We'll find a way. Mom has made so many sacrifices for us, it's time we gave up something for her. I'll stop buying Malibu Stacy clothing.
Bart: And I'll take up smoking and give that up.
Homer: Good for you, son. Giving up smoking is one of the hardest things you'll ever have to do. Have a dollar.
Lisa: But he didn't do anything!
Homer: Didn't he, Lisa? Didn't he?
Sure, President Dinner Jacket grabbed those British sailors and paraded them for the cameras in violation of the Geneva convention. But then he let them go, just in time for Easter. Let's all join together to praise the rational and reasonable Iranian leader. Here's the Anchoress with the topsy-turvy world of "The Wonderland of Ahmadenijad and his despot friends":

Mike Wallace, who has made a point since early in President Bush’s first term to hammer him with negatives, gave Ahmadinejad a rather fond thumbs up not too long ago. Tyrants, for whatever reason, seem on an ascending curve, one that is redefining exactly who the good guys and bad guys are. Now, apparently, they are “good guys” are the too-long misunderstood tinpots and despots. The bad guys? Why, they’re the cowboys, of course.
Of course.

Extra - Protein Wisdom: "Bottom line - as Victor Davis Hanson noted yesterday - is that the EU, UN, and NATO seemed paralyzed - and this, before Iran goes nuclear. If the Iranians were probing for reaction in order to determine Western latitude for provocation, they likely come away from this quite emboldened."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Quote of the day - From Tawfik Hamid writing on Opinion Journal: "It is vital to grasp that traditional and even mainstream Islamic teaching accepts and promotes violence." Additional commentary is available from McQ on Q&O.
File this under "empty gesture" - A region of Belgium approves a tax on barbequing. How can they possibly enforce this silliness?
Third degree on the Fifth amendment - Monica Goodling to John Conyers: drop dead
That frenetic Alaskan lady on "Deal or No Deal" - She had to keep quiet two months until last night's show: "When the TV game show "Deal or No Deal" announced Monday night that Alaskan Heidi Kurtz had won a satisfying $204,000, the bubbly single mother, watching at her South Anchorage home, crumpled against her grandmother and broke down sobbing. "Finally," she said. And the swell of family members around her broke into applause." Good for her.
Try clicking your heels three times, Mbeki

Here's some serious self-delusion from the South African president on Zimbabwe's murderous Robert Mugabe:

South African President Thabo Mbeki said he believed Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe will step down peacefully and that the chief challenge for the region was to ensure Zimbabwe has free and fair elections next year.

Mbeki told Tuesday's Financial Times he had started mediation following his appointment last week by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to spearhead efforts to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis.

Asked if the 83-year-old Mugabe -- accused of electoral abuses and economic mismanagement by the opposition -- would eventually stand down, Mbeki said he believed he would.

"I think so. Yes, sure," Mbeki said. "You see, President Mugabe and the leadership of (the ruling) ZANU-PF believe they are running a democratic country."
Sure, yeah, why not? Sounds good. Whatever.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Blood in the water

Dr. Sanity is unhappy with England's response to the hostage crisis and thinks that diplomacy is just a stalling tactic for the Iranian mullahs to see how far they can push the West. Here she is with "Showdown at the UK Corral":

The Mullahs are watching and have a great big Cheshire cat grin on their face. They almost certainly have concluded from the useless British and international response that they can get away with practically anything now.
Oh boy, she's en fuego. (HT: Maggies Farm)
A real "Law & Order" candidate - Robert Novak thinks that Fred Thompson is the real deal: "In just three weeks, Fred Thompson has transformed the contest for the Republican presidential nomination. It is not merely that he has come from nowhere to double digits in polls. He is the talk of GOP political circles because he is filling the conservative void in the field."
We've all been there - Mark Coffey at Decision'08 is thinking of hanging up the blogging racket. Don't do it, Mark. Just take a break and come back after a couple days; by then you'll be itching to log in some new stories. I know this feels like a job sometimes, but it's also (to me) a great release, a cathartic exercise. Plus, you have that sweet URL address, which will log ten-thousand hits a day around November 2008.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Lady Knights whomp LSU - The Rutgers woman basketball team advanced to the national championship game by knocking out Louisiana State 59-35. Check out this domination: the 35 points scored by LSU is (by far) the lowest point total for a Final Four team. If Rutgers beats whomever wins the North Carolina-Tennessee game, they'll be the lowest-seeded team to win the college championship.
Amazing Race update - Special extended episode edition

With six teams remaining, the TAR overlords decided it must be time for a two-hour episode which makes for a long night for yours truly. Believe me, I wouldn't do it if Rob & Amber were still on the show but things have been getting interesting lately, so here we go.

Teams started out in Zanzibar with Charla & Mirna heading out to Warsaw, Poland and Czapski Palace. We're told that Joe & Bill are a full half-day behind them, so unless there's some serious bunching, they're going to fall far behind. Everybody heads to the travel agency where Charla & Mirna are a pain-in-the-ass to both the travel agent and the other Racers. The Beauty Queens grab the fastest flight to Warsaw, grabbing up the last two seats on the plane out. They're followed by Uchenna & Joyce and the other teams lag behind. Joe & Bill are shown finally leaving but they're on the last flight out with Eric & Danielle; however, they miss the connecting flight so these two teams are way, way behind.

Dustin & Kandace are now the only teams in Poland and they need to find a Frederic Chopin actor at the Palace. It's the Detour: Perfect Pitch or Perfect Angle. Teams may either tune a piano or X-ray a mannequin to find the clue to the next destination. The Beauty Queens finish this first since one of them plays the piano. Meanwhile, Charla & Mirna can't get anybody in Warsaw to tell them how to get to the Palace. The Beauty Queens dump their backpacks on a bench and run to the Pit Stop where they arrive in first place for this leg.

Back at the Detour, Oswald & Danny break a piano wire and have to wait to get it fixed. Charla & Mirna make a complete mess of their piano as the Polish pianist looks on in silent horror (he needs to play a Chopin piece to confirm the piano is in tune.) They eventually give up and go to try the other Detour.


#1 - Dustin & Kandace
#2 - Oswald & Danny
#3 - Uchenna & Joyce
#4 - Charla & Mirna

Joe & Bill and Eric & Danielle are so far behind that the Beauty Queens start the next leg of the Race while these two teams are just arriving in Warsaw. So now it becomes clear why this needed to be a two-part episode. Dustin & Kandace leave 11pm at night and need to head to Auschwitz. This is getting very confusing with four teams starting one leg and the other two still working on the Detour. But Eric & Danielle finish just ahead of Team Guido and head to the clue leading to the Pit Stop. They arrive in fifth place and Joe & Bill walk sadly to the mat where they are told that this is yet another non-elimination leg. Team Guido needs to arrive first at the mat on the next leg or they'll incur a 30-minute penalty. Since they're already almost a full day behind the first four teams, this essentially means that they need to beat Eric & Danielle by a half-hour.

#5 - Eric & Danielle
#6 - Joe & Bill

Next leg - On the charter bus to Auschwitz, Uchenna & Joyce, Dustin & Kandace, and Oswald & Danny are on the 1pm bus while Charla & Mirna, Eric & Danielle, and Joe & Bill are on the second bus, four hours later. The first group arrives and reads a history of the concentration camp with obvious emotion. After lighting a candle in tribute, they head out by marked cars to Krakow and the next clue. Once in Krakow, teams hit both the Fast Forward and the Intersection; at the Intersection, one team must join with another team. The Beauty Queens arrive last among the first three so they must wait at least four hours for the next team to arrive so they can team up. This is all starting to get a little silly for me: the TAR overlords purposely split into two groups of three knowing full-well that one team would have to wait. Too clever by half.

Uchenna & Joyce and Oswald & Danny complete the Fast Forward by climbing some steps so they all get to go directly to the Pit Stop. Back at the Intersection, the Beauty Queens are forced to team up with Charla & Mirna. Now it's the Detour: Eat it Up or Roll it Out. Teams may either make (then eat) kielbasa or roll out bagels and deliver them to a bakery. Joe & Bill and Eric & Danielle join up for the final pair; it seems to me that as long as Eric & Danielle keep Team Guido in eyesight all the way to the Pit Stop, they can knock out Joe & Bill because of the 30-minute penalty.

All eight Racers are trying to down two feet of sausage and tiny Charla can't see to fit it all. Kandace (or Dustin, I can't remember) barfs. Charla decides that this might be a good way to make room in her stomach and also throws up. Eric & Danielle and Joe & Bill finish first; the combined teams then separate into individual teams again and head off in marked cars. Mirna can't figure out how to disengage the parking brake; I swear I can't believe they've made it this far in the Race. She then starts yelling at taxi drivers who refuse to show her the way to the next clue without some kind of payment. The nerve! When they walk away, she starts the "poor helpless girl" act again. I swear she's mental, totally gonzo nuts that chick. Eventually, a taxi driver gives in for $50.

Once at the next clue, it's the Roadblock. One team member must don a suit of armor, then walk a horse a half-mile to the castle, and then head on to the Pit Stop. The Beauty Queens arrive first, followed by the Screamin' Armenians; Eric & Danielle and Joe & Bill arrive together so it's not looking good for Team Guido unless Eric drops dead. Mirna will not shut the hell up, just constantly yelling at Charla. Team Guido arrives about a minute ahead of Eric & Danielle and, because of their penalty, Joe & Bill are eliminated from the Race.

Final standings:

#1 & #2 - Uchenna & Joyce and Oswald & Danny
#3 - Dustin & Kandace
#4 - Charla & Mirna
#5 - Joe & Bill - 30-minute penalty - PHILIMINATED
#6 - Eric & Danielle

Next week: Tempers are running hot

Extra - See if Pat at Brainster has a recap of tonight's show.