Friday, August 31, 2007

Sure, why not? - Via Fark: "Top 10 influential albums that bombed"

Oddly enough, I have #1 if only because I thought "Picture Book" from the HP commercial was pretty catchy.
Mugabe calls out the troops. Democracy surrenders.

From All Africa - "Zimbabwe: Mugabe mobilizes war vets"

Mugabe has routinely used war veterans in recent elections to spearhead a campaign of violence and terror against the opposition. The war veterans played a pivotal role in the tightly contested 2002 presidential election, won by Mugabe by 400 000 votes against the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.

The ex-combatants were also used to spearhead the government's controversial and often violent 2000 land invasions which critics blame for causing food shortages and exacerbating the country's economic crisis.

War veterans this week said they were not prepared to accept anyone else as a presidential candidate in next year's joint elections.
From "V for Vendetta"

Dominic: So do you know what's gonna happen?
Finch: No, it was a feeling. But I can guess. With so much chaos, someone will do something stupid. And when they do, things will turn nasty. And then Sutler will be forced to do the only thing he knows how to do. At which point, all V needs to do is keep his word. And then...
[Dominoes collapse with TV footages showing conflicts between rioting
citizens and the anti-riot police
Watch the future unravel.
Mr. Craig - he done.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

He's toast - This transcript of Senator Larry Craig talking to the arresting officer is uncomfortable enough but the audio is ten-times worse. He can't possibly survive this and I'm not even sure what crime he committed.
Runaway entitlements leading to Fortress America

From the Boston Globe: "America's golden years?"

Although the aging crisis is less severe in the United States than in the other great powers, the challenges arising from this crisis are far from trivial. The Congressional Budget Office projects that by 2015, spending on the elderly in the United States will total almost $1.8 trillion -- nearly half of the anticipated federal budget. For the United States, healthcare costs are the biggest problem presented by an aging population. This country spends more than twice as much per capita in this area than any other industrialized state. By conservative estimates, absent reforms, the costs of Medicare alone will be at least $2.6 trillion in 2050 in today's dollars -- roughly the size of the current US federal budget.

To pay for the massive fiscal costs associated with its aging population, the United States is likely to have to scale back its international policies. America will be less able in the future to dedicate significant resources to preventing WMD proliferation, funding nation building, and engaging in humanitarian interventions. So at the same time that global aging will help prevent the rise of great power competitors, this phenomenon may jeopardize other vital US international interests.

To protect its international security, the United States needs to maintain its enviable demographic position. Specifically, it should reduce Social Security and Medicare payments to wealthier citizens, raise the retirement age to reflect increases in life expectancies, maintain largely open immigration policies, and, above all, restrain the rising costs of its healthcare system. A defining political question of the 21st century is whether US leaders have sufficient political will and wisdom to implement these and related policies. Failure to do so will significantly jeopardize future levels of America's global influence and safety.
Tell me about it. Without reform, there won't be room for regular domestic spending, much less security or humanitarian efforts; time for the turtle shell.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Crazy rhymes with rich - The late Leona Helmsley leaves bupkis to two of her grandchildren "for reasons known to them" but bestows $12 million to her dog. Her dog.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

One candidate speaks on Social Security

Every blog needs a niche and I suppose my place will be to track how the Presidential candidates address the simmering Social Security crisis. Here's a Q&A for Rudy Giuliani (hat tip to RCP) who answered - or failed to answer - the question:

What's your plan to deal with Social Security?
I'm going to say, and I mean this, Social Security is something we can straighten out if I get elected. I believe Social Security will be straightened out if almost anybody else gets elected. I don't think this is one of the critical things that only I can do, because I think Republicans and Democrats are willing to agree on Social Security once they get themselves out of a presidential race where Democrats are hoping to hear one of us say that we're going to reduce Social Security so they can do commercials saying we are going to hurt elderly people. And Republicans may be hoping the Democrats are going to say something where they can say they're going to bankrupt the country. And the reality is that neither one of us is going to do that. There are several solutions to Social Security that could get bipartisan support, but if either side comes out supporting it, it's going to get wiped out in all the political finger-pointing that's going on. There is too much history here. It should be done. Someone should get elected and put together five Democratic and five Republican senators and tell them, "Give me two options, three options, and then we'll negotiate it out."
Another commission, oh boy. Of course, everything Giuliani says is exactly correct which is why there is never any progress in unearthing a solution to the entitlement puzzle. But if I could ask one question of all the 2008 candidates, it would be this:

Without saying what you wouldn't do, what actionable steps would you take to reform Social Security?
As a minimum, will the candidates acknowledge that a program crafted in the shadow of the great Depression may be an anachronism in a country where over half of Americans own stock either directly or through 401(k)s?

Hey, I'll go first: the Social Security benefit age should be raised to 70.

Social Security's original retirement age of 65 was set in 1935 when life expectancy was 63. Today, life expectancy is 77 - and, for those who live to 65, life expectancy is 83.
With an aging population, the number of workers supporting each retiree has dropped from 16 workers/retiree to 3 workers/retiree today. Somebody's gotta pay and by 2030, it's just going to be me and you.
Meanwhile, in Turkey - Via Gateway: "First Islamist elected to Turkey"

Sad to say, but the concern is that a free election which installs an Islamist is usually the last. But I don't think there's much to fear, and possibly much to be gained, in an Islamist government in Turkey which still maintains a militant secularism and a fanatical devotion to democracy. The election of Abdullah Gul may set an example to the world of a freely-elected politician who just happens to be a Muslim and does not wish to install Sharia. I'm cautiously optimistic.
They're not going to wear flowers in their hair - Unaccustomed to the progressive utopia, African-Americans are abandoning San Francisco in droves.
The great American map shortage - I take no pleasure in piling on Miss Teen South Carolina's meltdown, but Paul on Wizbang has a great dissection of her, um, "answer" and how it tried to hit every liberal talking point in the book.

Monday, August 27, 2007

And loving it! - Next summer, Steve Carell stars in the movie version of "Get Smart"; here's the trailer. Quite possibly my favorite comedy of all time.
Soccer ball = atomic bomb

Let no good deed go unpunished: the U.S. military is apologizing for handing out soccer balls with the Saudi Arabian flag on it. It seems that flag contains the Arabic names for Allah and Muhammad and shouldn't be kicked. Or held. Or looked at. All right, fair enough.

But wait! There's no sacrilege too small when it comes to the Great Satan:

"This ball...carries a message with it which, like an atom bomb, can cause carnage and insecurity in all parts of Afghanistan," a leading Afghan private daily, Cheragh, said on Monday.
Our bad, dudes. Maybe you could just kick the Israeli side.
For all you Pink Floyd fans - Total eclipse of the moon (tonight)
As summer turns to fall - It must be time for a brand-new Republican scandal. Almost a year ago, it was Mark Foley text-messaging Congressional pages and now we have Larry Craig of Idaho lookin' for love in all the wrong places. It's become oh-so-tiresome defending the Republicans who seem to have come unmoored from whatever core principles they once had. As Casey Stengel once lamented: "Can't anybody here play this game?"

Extra - From Gay Patriot: "Idaho's Craig should resign"
This just in - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigns. It looks like yesterday's rumors were true. Chertoff next?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tricked 'em again - The DNC strips Florida Democrats of its convention delegates; the Democrats blame the Republicans. What do they put in the water down in Florida?
Chris Wallace smacks Bill Moyers - Pwn'ed over Karl Rove. John at Powerline asks: "There comes a time, it seems to me, when a man has been so utterly discredited as a hateful ignoramus that, not only should he be shunned by all people of good will, he should even be cut off from taxpayer subsidies. Is there anything - anything at all - that is too low for PBS to countenance?" I'm sure that Moyers will curtly respond that anything Karl Rove says is a lie and, if it isn't...well, slander doesn't apply to Karl Rove. His audience won't disagree.

More - Matt Hoy has the transcripts and more commentary.

And this - I'm going to assume that the "Bill Israel" who claimed his buddy Karl Rove told him he was agnostic is the same unbiased UMass journalism professor who waited exactly one day after 9/11 to pen this contemptible letter to the Daily Collegian.
You stupid, GOP-voting rubes

David Brooks eviscerates some professor's book on Americans' voting choices:

Finally, if voter decisions are driven by the sort of crude emotional outbursts Westen recommends, and if, as he writes, "a substantial minority of Americans hold authoritarian, intolerant ideologies driven by fear, hate and prejudice that are fundamentally incompatible with Democratic (and democratic) principles," then shouldn't we abandon this whole democracy thing? Shouldn't we have a coup, led perhaps by the Emory psychology department, which could prevent the brutish and hate-filled from ever gaining control?
Peter Pace, arrest this professor before his message of "truth to power" reaches the people!
Irony overload - The DNC disenfranchises Florida voters. Well, they warned us this would happen.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Who cares? - It must be a slow day in the blogosphere since everybody's getting their shorts in a bunch over Robert Fisk, Huffington Post, and Bill Maher. It all has the same attention-grabbing, "look at me, I'm outrageous!" taint (see: Bob Saget, below).

Update (8/26) - Martin Lewis now claims it was all just a big joke and the right-wing blogosphere doesn't understand satire. There's a word for this.
No more Mr. Nice Guy

There was something so sublime about Tom Shales crushingly brutal review of Bob Saget's HBO "comedy" special. From the Wash Post: "He'd empty a full house"

It's all some unsavory variation on having one's cake and eating it, too, reeling off lewd remarks at warp speed, stopping occasionally to feign an apology or upbraid the audience for laughing, then plunging ahead with numbing monotony. And while claiming shame over the sitcom and the "Videos" show, Saget keeps trying to mine them for laughs. He tells a member of the audience to "ask me my favorite episode" of "Full House" and then quickly answers, "the last one."

By that show's finale, he was probably making seven figures per episode, but just think of all the artistic suffering, the compromising of his high ideals, the thwarting of his desire to stand before a theater full of people and talk dirty. When he tells the audience, "I'd like to do something special for you now," one longs for a heckler to shout out, "How about shutting up?"
Apparently Saget's entire routine is a certain four-letter word repeated ad nauseum while defecating over his "clean guy" image. Sounds like fun!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Confession time - Yes, I was one of the 2 million viewers to see the now-axed "Anchorwoman." There was one surprise in this story of a well-endowed blonde taking over in a small Texas town news station: at least one person in the newsroom must have refused to allow his likeness to be broadcast on the reality show. He/she was blurred out in publicity billboards and during the morning roundtable discussions. So at least one person was so repulsed by this stunt that they eschewed national exposure - good for you, blurry news person!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Edwards' popularity slumps like his hair without mousse - The Hedgehog Report has the latest national poll data and John Edwards is now only a couple points of Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich! I've never said a discouraging word about Edwards' candidacy because I secretly wanted this single-term, do-nothing, ambulance-chasing, "Two Americas" mansion-dweller to make some inroads before Hillary sends him back to his stylist. But he's done.

The Second Amendment is a "privilege?" The Constitution begs to differ, Silky Pony.
Catching up - I've been traveling today but it looks like the big news is National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. From what little I've gleaned, it looks like both sides of the war debate can find passages to cite or ignore. My feeling is that, despite the strength of the U.S. and Iraqi security forces, Iraq is standing on feet of clay because of the fecklessness of the Maliki government.

You're going to find new friends? Better do it quick. U.S. patience is worn thin.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

That's a paddling - Houston Texans whip Baltimore Ravens with three touchdowns and three field goals. Wait...what? Baseball!?!
When elephants fight - With whom are you going to side in a fight between Andrew Sullivan and Victor Davis Hanson? I'll pick Hanson: "First, I am not sure that Sullivan can read the English language" and this: "I used to think Sullivan was perhaps unstable, but not necessarily dense. But I fear that he is increasingly both-or more still."
When slackers met Expedia - According to this Boston Globe article, the Internet has opened up a new frontier in youth hostels: your couch. "The five met through, an online network of travelers, mostly in their 20s, who are tired of staying in hotels and hostels and who want to see the world with a free place to crash -- often on someone's couch."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Worst. Congress. Ever. - From Gallup: "A new Gallup Poll finds Congress' approval rating the lowest it has been since Gallup first tracked public opinion of Congress with this measure in 1974. Just 18% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 76% disapprove, according to the August 13-16, 2007, Gallup Poll."

The drop is entirely due to a collapse in support from Democrats and independents frustrated by a Congress more adept at sending subpoenas than passing legislation. At least the non-voting teenagers of America are happy about the minimum wage increase.

Extra - More from Commentary's blog.
Failing to find any questions on yachting sails, the Boston Globe comes to reason

On Sunday, the Boston Globe reported that half of black and Hispanic applications for Massachusetts teaching certification failed to pass the licensing test. Today, a remarkable editorial followed indicating that, maybe, there wasn't a racial component to blame:

Inadequate preparation, not cultural bias, is the most likely explanation for the high failure rate among black and Hispanic candidates. Similar to the achievement gap problem between white and minority students, a solution requires educators to target the academic deficiencies of prospective teachers and provide them with remedial support.
Imagine that. A couple of years ago, as a lark, I took the MTEL test which is a half-day of readin' and writin' (no 'rithmetic). IIRC, I had a near-perfect score for writing which involved transcribing an audio passage on the history of the Constitution.
Winter's coming already? - Boy, I took the dog out for a walk tonight and it was c-c-cold.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Petraeus testifies Sept. 11th - Captain Ed explains how Congress arrived at that date. David Weigel on Hit & Run does some backpedaling when the facts upset his narrative. It seems like there's a lot of that going around.

Extra - Ace: "Seems like an odd time for the MSM to lecture bloggers about the need for patient fact-gathering."

More - Paper guy Matt Hoy on bias at the Seattle Times.
Forgetting history - Victor Davis Hanson answers "Why study war?" in City Journal: "Military history teaches us about honor, sacrifice, and the inevitability of conflict."

Also from City Journal, the cult of peace studies:

George Orwell would have understood the attraction of privileged young people to the Peace Racket. "Turn-the-other-cheek pacifism," he observed in 1941, "only flourishes among the more prosperous classes, or among workers who have in some way escaped from their own class. The real working class...are never really pacifist, because their life teaches them something different. To abjure violence it is necessary to have no experience of it." If so many young Americans have grown up insulated from the realities that Vegetius and Sun Tzu elucidated centuries ago, and are therefore easy marks for the Peace Racket, it's thanks to the success of the very things the Peace Racket despises above all - American capitalism and American military preparedness.
Singin' in the rain

Water keeps cascading into the Big Dig and a state auditor has found virtually no improvement since the state swore to plug the leaks. From the Boston Globe: "Leaks still plague tunnel"

Last month, Michael P. Lewis, the turnpike's director of the $15 billion Big Dig project, released a report saying the amount of water being pumped out of the O'Neill Tunnel had been cut nearly in half from 2003 to 2006.

But a report by the state's consulting engineers to Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen largely rejects Lewis's reassurance, saying the overall leak volumes went up again in 2007 -- and making it impossible to conclude there has been any progress. The consulting engineers from Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates said that Turnpike officials still need to figure out where the water is coming from and stop it to avoid long-term damage to the tunnel, the centerpiece of the Big Dig system of highway tunnels and ramps.
Adding insult to injury, the state water authority has revoked the Turnpike's permit to pump water through the sewage system because it's 50 times what was originally predicted. Your tax dollars at work.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Things that make me feel "old" - a continuing series

Something called "High School Musical 2" is very popular. From the NY Times: "If these estimates hold up, it would make "High School Musical 2" the most watched event ever broadcast on basic cable, surpassing the debut of "Monday Night Football" on ESPN, which attracted 16 million viewers on Sept. 23, 2006." Hey everybody! Let's put on a show!
Nobody wants my cellphone because of the Belle & Sebastian ringtone - But if you're going to misplace your cellphone, try to do it in Toronto.
Global warming's not-so "settled science" - Here's part 2 of Jeff Jacoby's take on climate change and letters to the editor on part 1; keep an eye on the smoking straw-man.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

MIT professor, angry at his son, shoots self

This is absolutely bizarre: a former MIT professor staged an elaborate hoax to frame his own son. From the Boston Globe: "Ex-professor found guilty of staging own shooting"

Donovan asserted he was targeted by Russian hit men as he sat in the Vassar Street parking lot of his Cambridge business office.

Sitting in the front seat of his minivan, Donovan said, he called police on his cellphone and accused his son James of laundering $180 million, of hiring two Russians to murder him, and of launching a simultaneous attack on his wife, Linda, at their home in Hamilton.

But, according to Attorney General Martha Coakley and testimony at Donovan's trial, Donovan shot himself in the abdomen, shot up his own minivan, kept a spent bullet in his mouth, rearranged a surveillance camera to prevent the taping of his hoax, and laid out the entire plan in a form of shorthand on the dinner menu of the Algonquin Club to which he belonged. Police found the "to-do" list in his pocket.
Foiled by the old "to-do list in the pocket"! You know those scientific types: always have to get everything in order.
It's not like you can find washers just anywhere - From the Guardian "Plumbing boss charged Pentagon $1m for two washers": "Plumbers are notorious for excessive bills. But none has come even remotely close to matching an extravagant claim by a South Carolina firm: almost $1m (£500,000) for two metal washers worth 19c each."

Friday, August 17, 2007

There is a God and he's a mechanic - Looking for your daily Subaru update? Driving to work today, that damn belt for the power steering either fell off or snapped and I had to hobble to the next exit on I-91. At the bottom of the exit was a Sunoco station (good) where I parked and popped the hood to confirm the belt was gone. But when I looked up from the damage, across the street was an Advanced Auto Parts (much better). What are the odds? I waited for them to open, replaced the belt, and continued on my way.
More Friday silliness - I have got to see this movie: "The King of Kong" about a Donkey Kong tournament. Donkey Kong was an early 1980s arcade game (now I feel old) and once I had a moment of pure zen - unrefined instinct taking over - during a game such that dazzled onlookers murmured "no way." True story. (HT: Wizbang Pop)
Every person a pixel - Human animation at the Asian Games. That's some serious coordination there. Hat tip to Des, who must have enjoyed the "economics of baseball" post below.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The rise and fall of Hillary - Ann Althouse notes that Rudy Giuliani has surged ahead of Hillary in a national poll and speculates: "Here's my theory. In the last month, she's widened her lead over the other Democrats and now looks like the inevitable nominee. That's made her boring and also stirred up some realistic thinking and fears about what it would be like if she actually became President."

IIRC (although I can't find it online) right before election night 2004, Bob Shrum said something along the lines of "now they have to vote for him" - him being the thoroughly unlikable John Kerry. The Democrats are certainly have the inside track for the White House in 2008, but Americans may decide that four more years of a Clinton are too much.
Jenna Bush: off the market
Viking Pundit is a sparsely visited web site with typical re-hashed news stories the greatest blog ever - Via LGF, here's Wired magazines list of juicy Wikipedia re-edits.
The economics of "hit by pitch" - From Christianity Today, via Arts & Letters: an economist's view of baseball.
Everybody's crazy

From the UK Guardian:

Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, today received a rapturous welcome from fellow southern African leaders at a regional summit that will discuss the crisis in his country.
I guess it's fine to starve your citizenry, as long as you're sticking it to Whitey! Rock on, Mugabe!
Can't we all just get along?

From the Boston Globe: "The toll of intolerance in Iraq"

The desolating reality illuminated in the truck bombings and each of the incidents preceding it is a collective refusal to accept differences, whether of one individual from a community or of one group from another. Indeed, this is the billowing nightmare that has descended on all the people of Iraq.
This harkens back to the argument that Iraq is so diverse and divided that only the iron fist of a tyrant could hold it together. I guess "live and let live" isn't in the Koran.

Woody: "Ask her why she thinks the Book of Concord is not in line with the Scriptures!"
Kelly: "Because it's not."
Woody: "HERETIC!"
From "Cheers" via Windypundit.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Push back on Newsweek's global warming "denial" story

Jeff Jacoby wonders why the environmentalists are so angry: "Hot tempers on global warming"

Then why is the tone of Sharon Begley's cover story -- nine pages in which anyone skeptical of the claim that human activity is causing global warming is painted as a bought-and-paid-for lackey of the coal and oil industries -- so strident and censorious? Why the relentless labeling of those who point out weaknesses in the global-warming models as "deniers," or agents of the "denial machine," or deceptive practitioners of "denialism?" Wouldn't it be more effective to answer the challengers, some of whom are highly credentialed climate scientists in their own right, with scientific data and arguments, instead of snide insinuations of venality and deceit? Do Newsweek and Begley really believe that everyone who dissents from the global-warming doomsaying does so in bad faith?

Anthropogenic global warming is a scientific hypothesis, not an article of religious or ideological dogma. Skepticism and doubt are entirely appropriate in the realm of science, in which truth is determined by evidence, experimentation, and observation, not by consensus or revelation. Yet when it comes to global warming, dissent is treated as heresy -- as a pernicious belief whose exponents must be shamed, shunned, or silenced.
And Polipundit notes that even Newsweek's contributing editor is questioning the motives of his own magazine. As I've written before, the global warming scare (Exxon, please send a check!) is more a religion than a movement. The Democrats in Congress are all warriors against global warming until it means doing something meaningful like increasing CAFÉ standards, dropping ethanol import tariffs, promoting greenhouse-gas-free nuclear power, or approving Cape Wind off Ted Kennedy's vacation home.
Subaru 200,041 - Well, my car blew up today. Imagine tooling along at 60mph and shearing off your main driveshaft pulley, shredding all your drive belts, and losing power everything. Stupid Japanese car.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Subaru 200K - My Outback Sport hit 200,000 miles on my commute home today. In an interesting coincidence, the song on the radio at the time was "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" by Meatloaf. Which was doubly weird since Phil Rizzuto died yesterday.
Headline of the Day: "Official: No need to fear Dean just yet"

Whew, that's a relief. But just look him, plotting away...
Lie small, lie big

There's not much I can pile onto the huge amount of electrons dedicated to Karl Rove, but my blood gets boiling when history gets twisted. From the Boston Globe (natch):

His inability to get Congress to privatize Social Security or reform immigration will leave his boss, President Bush, with a meager legacy of domestic policy accomplishments, and no prospect for the historic political realignment in favor of the Republicans that Rove hoped to achieve.
Or Newsday:

And legislative losses on Social Security privatization and immigration reform have left Bush in search of a legacy.
Or the Atlantic magazine:

It was already clear that Social Security privatization, a longtime Rove enthusiasm, was the first thing Bush would pursue in his second term.
The most radical Social Security plan that President Bush ever proposed was a voluntary program that would have allowed a whopping one-sixth of FICA taxes diverted into a private fund. This would have been an investment that grew, even with T-bills, at a better rate than the federal government's plan and could have been a nest egg to pass on to relatives after death.

No matter: the story had been written and perfectly objective media has spoken. Karl Rove was itching to kick Grandma out into the street, the bastard.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rove hits the road - So, what's everybody talking about today? This is the hazard of not being able to update your blog until after the kids go to sleep. Oh well.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Great moments in literary fact-checking

From a book review of "A Year Without "Made In China": One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy" about a family who tried to go a year without buying stuff from China:

Bongiorni offers this book as a lesson in globalization, though she's the one who needed the remedial education: Throughout most of her boycott she cheerfully bought products made in Hong Kong, thinking it was still British.
The archbishop cried: "send in the troops"

Here's Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe with "Zimbabwe's horrors":

Countless lives could be saved, and incalculable suffering ended, if Mugabe were forced from power. A detachment of US Marines, I wrote on this page in 2002, could do the job on its lunch break. The British could do it. South Africa could do it.

But of course no one will do anything. The death toll in Zimbabwe will continue to mount; the misery will continue to spread; the horror stories will continue to multiply. Cry, the beloved country.
Jacoby starts out this article by noting that Roman Catholic archbishop Pius Ncube has implored the United Kingdom to invade their former colony and depose the tyrant Robert Mugabe:

Zimbabwe's leading cleric has called on Britain to invade the country and topple President Robert Mugabe. Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, warned that millions were facing death from famine, unable to survive amid inflation believed to have soared to 15,000%.
As I've noted before, the tragedy of Zimbabwe is that it used to be the model of a successful former colony, the "breadbasket of Africa." By preaching the gospel of hate and division, Robert Mugabe has driven the country straight into the barren ground and there's every indication he'll steal the election in March.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hello, Geico? Yeah, you're not going to believe this

Another Subaru bites the dust: "15-ton steel silo falls off truck, lands on car"

Friday, August 10, 2007

Roger Ebert stoops to Godwin's Law

From his review of "No End in Sight":

Although Bush and the war continue to sink in the polls, I know from some readers that they still support both. That is their right. And if they are so sure they are right, let more young men and women die or be maimed. I doubt if they will be willing to see this film, which further documents an administration playing its private war games. No, I am distinctly not comparing anyone to Hitler, but I cannot help being reminded of the stories of him in his Berlin bunker, moving nonexistent troops on a map, and issuing orders to dead generals.
Oh, all-powerful "not comparing" qualifier: save me from Dick Durbin's fate!
That durn economy - From the Hartford Courant "U.S. deficit runs lower": "The federal deficit so far this budget year is running sharply lower, driven by record revenue pouring into government coffers."
Well, that's an unfortunate "accident"

Golly I wonder if Robert Mugabe is going to steal the March election in Zimbabwe? From the NY Times: "General's death portends election troubles in Zimbabwe"

With all the problems besetting Zimbabwe, the untimely death of Brig. Gen. Armstrong P. Gunda, flattened by a freight train in late June, may seem to deserve only passing mention. His family, however, begs to differ.
Paging George Orwell:

General Gunda's death is seen by some as a signal that threats to Mr. Mugabe's re-election will be crushed. Indeed, some political analysts suspect that the plot was fabricated by his inner circle to make just that point.
Things are so bad in Zimbabwe right now, anybody with a pulse could beat Mugabe in a fair election. So it's time to either stop the election or stop the pulses.

And, by the way, "flattened by a freight train?" Freight trains travel about 10-15 mph and probably slower in Zimbabwe with no diesel. C'mon now.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Awesome cultural reference of the day - It's Mark Steyn writing on the Corner: "Jonah's column on the cult of self-esteem is full of good things. A few years back, I attended a School Board meeting in New Hampshire to discuss our grade school's mission statement, the first line of which was a commitment to prioritize self-esteem by increasing it to Spinal Tap 11." Oh, yeah! Doesn't it feel good?
A lack of money and courage

I'm busy with homework tonight, but I'll throw out this one quote from USN&WP: "Democratic debate spawns weird economics"

1) "You know, six and a half years ago, we had a balanced budget and a surplus; now we are in deep debt with a rising deficit, and it is absolutely true that George Bush has put it on the credit card, expecting our children and grandchildren to pay for it." -- Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Hey, the last time I checked, the budget deficit for this year was forecast to be $207 billion, half of what it was in 2004. (The budget might actually be back in the black when the next president takes office.) And while Bush did inherit a balanced budget and surplus from Team Clinton, neither administration successfully fixed the $100 trillion unfunded liability problem with Social Security and Medicare.
Is there a single Presidential candidate willing to say what exactly he/she will do to address the entitlement problem? I haven't heard a positive proposal yet, just "not do this."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Dear Sir: Thank you for purchasing flowers from us!

Wife: What flowers?

Man: You stupid florists.
A mighty wind blows off Nantucket - Stop the madness of Cape Wind
Happy Birthday, Instapundit! - Glenn Reynolds has thrown me a couple links over the past six years, so I gotta give props to the Blogfather.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tearjerker Olympics - I think Blackjack has it right here: the ratings for the 2008 Beijing Olympics are going to be abysmal. It's not just the time difference that's going to drive off the North American audience. The Olympics used to be about sports; now it's a parade of sticky-sweet human interest stories of struggles overcome and "one world" feel goodery. Is that a word? No, I guess not.
The deadliest catch - Uh-oh: "Million Pounds of Suspect Chinese Seafood Lands in U.S. Despite FDA Screening Order"

And speaking of the Deadliest Catch, it looks like the Discovery Channels is heading to the North Atlantic for "Lobster Wars." Hey, if the formula works...

Monday, August 06, 2007

Twist and shout - From Japanese TV: Human Tetris game
A/C for me but not for thee - From Radar Online: "Green fakers - Why eco-hypocrisy matters"

More - From Expat Yank: save the planet, drive a car.
Who's the boss?

Looks like Senator Mitch McConnell:

From the Boston Globe "New law expands power to wiretap":

President Bush signed a new law yesterday that expands the government's power to wiretap phone calls and e-mails on American soil without court oversight, capping a sudden victory for the White House despite loud criticism from advocates of civil liberties and privacy rights.
Hooray for Congress, which at last report was under Democratic control, but that can't be confirmed. The only major legislation voted out of this Congressional session has passed with a Republican majority and Democratic minority, expect for that minimum wage bill which was snuck into a budget resolution.

Extra - From Polipundit: "Kossacks flip out over FISA" Congrats on your majority, suckers!

More - Gun Toting Liberal says "thanks, jerks." (HT: Ann)
Sheer insanity in Newark - From CNN: "In a city where gun violence has become an all too common part of daily life, these shootings were enough to chill even the most hardened residents: Four young friends shot execution-style in a schoolyard just days before they were to head to college."

Newark was a way-station for me when I lived in New Jersey: north on NJ Transit to New York or south to New Brunswick. It always had a rundown feel about it but I never imagined something like this. Head-shakingly sad.
A little Law & Order - Right Wing News took a poll of right-of-center bloggers on the favorite GOP presidential candidates and Fred Thompson is in the lead, FWIW.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The obligatory weekend Fark hat tip post - From Giant magazine: "The 50 greatest commercials from the 1980s." I've never seen Jason Alexander so excited over a hamburger (see #3).
The myth of the melting pot

A Harvard professor discovers an "inconvenient truth": no matter how much we'd like to believe in the rainbow mosaic of America, we're just not fond of each other. From the Boston Globe "The Downside of Diversity":

It has become increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a civic strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same: our differences make us stronger.

But a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.

"The extent of the effect is shocking," says Scott Page, a University of Michigan political scientist.
There's a bit of humor as the "liberal academic" Putnam (from Harvard? No!) in the pro-diversity camp has to contend with the results of his own research. And there's some good news in that Putnam believes that diversity in the workplace has a positive effect on team dynamics and problem-solving capabilities. But after the whistle blows, we'd prefer to just stay home, watch TV, and let the neighbors do the same.
Lies that Michael Moore told us

Here's a letter to the editor from a Canadian doctor in agreement with a Boston Globe editorial about the lack of primary care doctors:

Your editorial was correct. One only has to look to Canada to see what problems exist with universal healthcare and a lack of doctors. In Quebec, there are areas where as many as 30 percent of people with healthcare coverage cannot find a doctor. They have to use walk-in clinics and emergency rooms for some basic problems that could have been solved if they had a family doctor. The province has used misguided policies such as reducing medical school admissions, early retirement packages, and keeping physicians' fees among the lowest in Canada to cut healthcare costs. The result is a significant shortage of primary care physicians and specialists. What use is universal healthcare if you have no access to healthcare?!

Kirkland, Quebec
O Canada.
Massachusetts to spend money on governing the state. Taxpayers confused.

From today's Boston Globe "$12b aimed at education, transportation":

Governor Deval Patrick tomorrow will unveil a five-year plan to spend $12 billion on new college classrooms, laboratories, roads, bridges, and other construction projects that he says were pushed aside as the state grappled to cover the ballooning cost of the Big Dig, according to a source familiar with the plan.
Imagine that.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Hot weekend - Goin' to see Mom and enjoy her central air. Later.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Fascinating - History of religion on Maps of War (HT: Jawa)

Fun trivia - The crescent-shaped croissant was invented to celebrate and memorialize the defeat of the Muslims at the Battle of Vienna in 1683.
I have to learn how to embed videos - Via Ace, here's a skateboarder at the X-Games literally losing his shoes after a bad landing. I yelled "OMG!" so loudly upon seeing this last night, I woke up my kids.
Unintentionally funny post title - The lineup for YearlyKos: "Reid, Pelosi, Emanuel Cancel; Fingers Crossed for Schumer"

Golly, can you coax the reclusive Schumer out of his shell? Good luck with that!
Our very own Theo Van Gogh

From Fox News: "Cops Link Black Muslim Group to Editor's Murder"

Police said they recovered firearms linked to the slaying of an Oakland journalist during a series of early morning raids Friday targeting members of a Black Muslim splinter group that operates a chain of bakeries.
This next part clarifies how some people view the war on terror:

"To him it was just another story," Debro said. "He wasn't apprehensive or anxious about it at all. He said he was working on a bunch of stories and this was one."
I've written about this before: I don't see how Muslims can assimilate in the United States when they are, by definition, hostile to the ideals of the U.S. Constitution, especially the First Amendment. Freedom of religion means you're allowed to covert to Islam, but not the other way around. And, obviously, freedom of speech means you're allowed to criticize those who criticize Muslims.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Quote of the day - Zimbabwe's vice president Joseph Msika on that country's utter economic catastrophe: "We will not allow shelves to be empty."

And yet, they are! It's a mystery.
Engineering disasters

I don't have much to add to the terrible bridge collapse in Minnesota other than to say that this is exactly why I'm semi-obsessed with the future tragedy that is Boston's Big Dig. Read this paragraph:

Minnesota officials were warned as early as 1990 that the bridge that collapsed into the Mississippi River was "structurally deficient," yet they relied on patchwork repairs and stepped-up inspections that unraveled amid a thunderous plunge of concrete and automobiles.
"Structurally deficient"? Check.
"Patchwork repairs"? Check.
"Plunge of concrete"? Check.

It may not happen within the next year or decade, but someday the Ted Williams tunnel is going to collapse and take hundreds of people with it.

Extra - My old Blogcritics review of "To Engineer is Human".

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A sign of the times

This past Saturday, a Toyota car won a NASCAR race for the first time.

From today's NYT: "Detroit is outsold by imports in U.S."

Detroit lost its leadership of the American automobile market for the first time ever in July, when import nameplates outsold the three American companies in a dismal month for auto sales.

The traditional American brands owned by General Motors, the Ford Motor Company and the Chrysler Group held 48.1 percent of the market in July, according to a preliminary estimate by Autodata Inc., an industry statistics firm in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.

That meant foreign auto companies held 51.9 percent of the market. The most they had previously held was 49.8 percent of the market earlier this year.
Uh-oh. Well, my father once gave me this advice: "never buy an American car." Also, sometime this month my Subaru will pass 200K miles.