Monday, September 30, 2013

Deus ex machine gun

I absolutely loved the conclusion to "Breaking Bad" last night but one thing has been nagging at me.  Walt built an extremely complicated machine-gun-firing device in - what? - one afternoon?  The trigger was rigged to the trunk latch, it had a vertical-rising table, and an oscillating arm.  This wasn't exactly an Erector-set contraption since the recoil from the M60 would be significant.  I just think it would have taken an MIT engineer about a week.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Final "Breaking Bad" prediction

Well, I was far off last month except for the part about Jesse being forced back to the cook.  I'm going to go with quick bullet points here:

  • Walt kills Lydia with the ricin by slipping it into her tea.
  • Walt kills the Nazis with his M60.
  • Walt frees Jesse.
  • Jesse kills Walt (because of Jane and Andrea.)
  • Jesse gives the money barrels to Brock, Kaylee, and that motorbike kid's family.
  • The "disappearing guy" honors Walt's dying wish and gets the barrel of money to Skyler.
  • Heull is still waiting.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Can't a guy sniff some glue in the privacy of his own home?

Today at Target I got some Loctite "Stik n Seal" indoor adhesive so I can fix a cap on a doorknob.  The girl at the counter asked me for my license.

"Excuse me?"

Checkout girl: "I just do what the register tells me and it says I have to scan your license."

So I hand her my Massachusetts license which has a kind of barcode on the back and now everybody knows that I bought some glue.  What kind of nonsense is this?  I can understand limits on cold capsules and pseudoephedrine but c'mon.  This isn't a component to make meth or some other dangerous substance but clearly a way to track "huffing" which - although dangerous - is unarguably a private activity.  The libertarian in me says that this is a slippery slope ending in the tracking cheeseburgers and Big Gulps.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Breaking Bad facts

Here.  The end is soon.  I'm thinking of sending a warning to my cable company of a Napalm strike if anything happens to my signal on Sunday night.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Trapper Keeper

This great Mental Floss article on "The History of the Trapper Keeper" evoked all kinds of memories.  Geez, everybody had those things in the early 1980s.  I had my topics coded thusly:

Red = Math
Blue = English
Green = Science

Any other way is sheer anarchy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Now we know why Nebraska wanted a Cornhusker kickback

Forbes: "Double down: Obamacare will increase average individual-market insurance premiums by 99% for men, 62% for women."

Extra - Hit & Run: "The dodgy new HHS report on Obamacare premiums."

Unsustainable debt

There goes the CBO using that phrase again.  WashPost: "The debt crisis deserves a serious response."
Put another way: Medicare and Social Security remain on track to crowd out other spending, slow economic growth and leave the government paying more in interest costs — 5 percent of GDP by 2038, compared with an average of 2 percent over the past 40 years. Just to keep pace, the government would have to tax more and more, or cut more and more, or both. The longer policymakers wait to address these issues, the harder it will be, not least because the interest will keep piling up.
By 2038, everybody in Washington will have succumbed to Keynesian mortality, so just keep kicking that can/bucket.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The nightmare before Obamacare

There were two articles on the Web today with similar headlines:

Eugene Robinson: "Why Obamacare is a GOP nightmare."
Fox News: "One man's Obamacare nightmare."

Per the SOP of defenders of this train wreck (see: Ezra Klein), the plan is to see into the Utopian future and ignore the current reality that costs are up, working hours are being cut, and you won't be able to keep your doctor if you could see him.  But - good news! - Robinson offers up exactly one objective metric as a sign of the program's future goodness:
Some of Obamacare's provisions are already in force and seem to be having the intended effect. For example, young adults are now allowed to stay on their parents' health insurance policies until age 26. In 2009, 29.8 percent of those 19 through 25 were uninsured; in 2012, 27.2 percent lacked insurance, a modest but significant decline.
There you go, America.  A very tiny sliver of the population can stay on Mom and Dad's insurance.  Totally worth it.

Meanwhile, that one man's nightmare is that he wasn't allowed to keep his high-deductible plan.
Insurance for the Mangiones and their two boys,which they bought on the individual market, was going to almost triple in 2014 --- from $333 a month to $965.
The insurance carrier made it clear the increase was in order to be compliant with the new health care law.
Not to worry, Mr. Mangione.  Lay back and think of insured frat boys getting their stomachs pumped for free.

Extra - Another 'glitch'.

Monday, September 23, 2013

No retirement

This Bloomberg article about a 77-year-old burger flipper tries hard to evoke the "there but for the grace of God go I" narrative but it just doesn't fly.  This guy was pulling down six figures as a VP of Marketing and then six figures doing consulting work.  In 2008, at age 72, he had a grand total of $90K saved for "retirement" which shriveled to $40K because of the financial crisis but also because he didn't diversify his portfolio.

Now his back hurts because he has to stand all day at his Sam's Club job (duh).  But he's proud to tell you he "can work today."  Well, good for you buddy.  At least you can depend on full Social Security benefits which is not something I can claim when I retire.  You're supposed to save at least ten times your salary for retirement and this guy didn't save one.

Kids today, they love buying expensive health insurance

Vodkapundit: "Obamacare Lies."
Evil Republicans, scaring America’s young people out of doing what comes naturally to them, which is to click on websites they’ve never heard of to buy health insurance they can’t afford or aren’t really interested in.
Right after "Grand Theft Auto", dawg.

No more Cruz control

Look, I admire a good fight as much as the next red-blooded American and believe that Obamacare will saddle this country with permanent underemployment, but Ted Cruz's plan to stop it is convoluted beyond description.  Therefore, this is not surprising: "McConnell, Cornyn won't join Cruz and Lee in filibustering House CR to defund Obamcare."

Did you follow that?  The continuing resolution (CR) passed by the Republican House would be filibustered by a Republican Senator.  Then Harry Reid calls for a simple majority vote to carve out the Obamacare carve-out and it goes back to the House where, what?, the GOP is going to vote for shutdown?  What genius thought this was a good idea?

Pay no attention to this Pew poll: the Republicans would get all the blame for shutting down the government.  This is the wrong fight.  Save it for the debt ceiling.

Extra - Bookworm Room sees Cruz as Leonidas: "But here’s what Cruz also knows: Obamacare will be a disaster. We know that for certain. Indeed, the best evidence you need is Congress’s frantic effort to ward off Obamacare in its own marbled halls. If that’s not enough, look at the diminution in choice, the price increases for the middle class, the lost jobs, the lost insurance coverage, and the downward adjustments in working hours.  We, the people, are going to be badly hurt by Obamacare."

Maybe.  Maybe this is all to elevate the Obamacare issue before it crashes, but I still think the government shutdown is the wrong arena for this fight.

Friday, September 20, 2013


I laughed way too hard at this.

Garden State

I was at the Jersey Shore for a family commitment over the past two days for the first time since I graduated from high school.  So it's been...quite a while.  The traffic on the Garden State Parkway is as bad as I remember even at noon on a weekday.  Now I gotta figure out what's going on with Congress and this continuing resolution.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

We have met the enemy

Now that the Syria unpleasantness is totes resolved, Obama can resume his war at home.

That's an unfortunate coincidence

My son is on his senior high school trip to Fenway Park tonight to watch a Red Sox game.  His high-school mascot is the Oriole and everybody is supposed to wear their school color tonight: orange.

Boston is playing Baltimore tonight.  D'oh!

Disarmament theater

Everybody act surprised: "UN Syria shenanigans already breaking down as Russians dispute that Assad was to blame for Damascus gas attack."  Why it's almost like Russia is our #1 geopolitical foe.

Extra - Then there's this odd couple: "We share, however, a background in the study of Russia, and it is here that we find the outcome of the Syrian crisis to be so disastrous."  And, in case you missed it, Assad was interviewed on Fox News tonight sayin' "I don't know nothing about no weapons!"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Oh, yeah, it's a big surprise

Hot Air: "Surprise CBO report: United States on an "unsustainable" budget course."

In this report, the CBO also hints at a "death spiral" as higher interest rates suppress liquidity and thus economic output leading to reduced revenues and...more debt.  Under what possible scenario does this end well for America?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Required reading for tonight's "Breaking Bad"

It's "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."
By the way, my prediction is that Hank, Gomex and - yes - even Jesse were killed in the desert shootout with the Aryans.  Todd and the crew don't know Walt has his money stashed six feet under but I think Walt realizes there's no way he can get it out without help.  He cuts a deal to cook as long as he can take a couple barrels with him to New Hampshire.  The clock is ticking because Marie is going to notice when Hank doesn't answer his phone.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Putin's offer is this: Nothing

It looks like this Syria mess has reached its humiliating denouement:
A deal has been struck, and it’s pretty much everything Vladimir Putin was insisting on and nothing that the Obama administration wanted for insurance.
To recap: American credibility is in tatters, Putin is doing an end-zone dance, Assad will remain in power and his men will give U.N. inspectors the runaround for years with no credible threat of military action.  On the plus side, we won't be Al-Qaeda's air force.  Turn those ships around, boys, and come on home.

American ineffectualism

Here's Mark Steyn: "With this op-ed Tsar Vlad is telling Obama: The world knows you haven’t a clue how to play the Great Game or even what it is, but the only parochial solipsistic dweeby game you do know how to play I can kick your butt all over town on, too.  This is what happens when you elect someone because he looks cool standing next to Jay-Z."

Extra - From Bookworm Room.

Friday, September 13, 2013

We're on the airway to HEL

CBS News: "Friday the 13th: Would you board flight 666 to HEL?"  Copenhagen to Helsinki.

Friday the 13th lucky for Jeff Gordon

He grabs the 13th slot in the Chase as NASCAR cites even more cheating and collusion among teams.

A couple years ago, Jimmie Johnson "borrowed" Jeff Gordon's pit crew because they were performing much better than JJ's.  Hey, that's great if you're part of a team, but it essentially punishes those drivers that are trying to make it on their own.  We're not too far away from having the "B" drivers on each team taking out the "A" drivers on rival teams (it happens).


This is not "rope-a-dope" or "multi-level chess": Obama is getting daily wedgies on the world stage.  Here's Krauthammer with "The fruits of epic incompetence"
So much for Obama’s repeated insistence that Assad must go. Indeed, Putin has openly demanded that any negotiation be conditioned on a U.S. commitment to forswear the use of force against Assad. On Thursday, Assad repeated that demand, warning that without an American pledge not to attack and not to arm the rebels, his government would agree to nothing.
Assad is making demands - cute.  Surely Obama wouldn't agree to this.

Oh never mind:
President Obama will not insist on a United Nations resolution threatening to use force to ensure that Syria lives up to its commitment to turn over chemical weapons, but will seek other tangible consequences for Syria if it does not comply, senior administration officials said Friday.
How about an empty threat to round out this farce?
Although Mr. Obama reserves the right to order a punitive military strike on his own without United Nations backing if Syria reneges, the officials said he understood that Russia, because of its veto power in the Security Council, would never allow a resolution that authorized such a use of force.
Yet here we are, pretending Syria will disarm, pretending Russia wants to pressure Syria, and pretending that President Nobel Peace Prize will launch an attack without Congressional cover.  Keep chatting, boys - the world will admire your indecisiveness.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Canada is awesome

This is Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11:

Hat tip: Imgur

So that's a "thumbs down" on Crossfire

Damn - somebody really, really doesn't like Stephanie Cutter.

Stuck in the middle

Neo-Neocon echoes a charge made by Ace that Obama earns no converts when he insults both sides of the aisle to - indirectly - praise himself.  Why it's almost like he's purposely trying to sabotage his goal as long as he can stroke his ego.  Again.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Makes sense

Obama says the credible threat of force is what compelled Syria to accept this phony baloney plan so therefore he's asking Congress to delay the vote for that force.

Update - President Zig Zag:
This led to perhaps the most disingenuous line uttered by either Zig or Zag in the 16-minute speech, with the president claiming that he had asked Congress to postpone the vote that he earlier requested authorizing use of military force in Syria in order to let the latest diplomatic moves play out. But just a minute earlier he had asserted that a main reason diplomacy was gaining traction was because of the “credible threat of U.S. military action.” Presumably, any further diplomacy would be even more effective if Congress sent a message that it was giving Obama all options to act if the talks fail. The more plausible rationale for congressional delay is that the administration would lose the vote if it took place now.

Please make it stop

I can't blog when I'm at work but I read the news and I can't believe this train wreck on Syria.  Have we ever seen a President sub-contract foreign policy to the Russians?

Bryan Preston: "Russia backing away from fake Syria weapons deal."  Of course.
and today's most popular article

And Ace posits a Bizarro universe where the media would be outraged by a Democrat President seeking a war to save his Presidency:
Imagine if Bush tried to whip votes for a War of Choice with the argument that people needed to support a war in order for him to maintain his domestic policy momentum on, say, cutting taxes.
Imagine it.
And yet the media reports this matter-of-factly, without any negative commentary, as if this is what presidents always do.
Yeah, pretty much.  Well let's get the popcorn ready for the big speech where we must rise to this "Munich Moment" with a toothless, "unbelievably small" attack that won't come because diplomacy, said the Russians.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Hello Newman!

In non-Syria news, an earthquake in the world of Redneck Round & Round.  Tonight NASCAR announced that Michael Waltrip Racing had intentionally colluded to engineer a spot in the Chase (the NASCAR "playoffs") for MWR driver Martin Truex, Jr.

After listening to team radio communications and reviewing Clint Bowyer's mysterious self-spin-out, NASCAR replaced Truex with Ryan Newman, who was leading at the time of the yellow flag.  In addition, MWR was assessed the largest fine in the history of NASCAR and docked 50 points per driver.

NASCAR couldn't exclude Bowyer from the Chase since there's no good way to determine if a spinout is intentional.  But immediately after the Richmond race, it's clear that Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was alongside Bowyer during the incident, thought it was very shady.  "Never seen anything like it," said Jr.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

That's one nice black box

Gizmodo: "Artist pranks Best Buy shoppers with a fake useless plastic black box."  (HT: Maggie's Farm).  The description is accurate for most items at Best Buy: "Another gadget you don't really need."

Saturday, September 07, 2013


You have a guy like this at work: he barely knows your name, condescends to you in meetings, but you know he can't add a column of numbers in Excel.  Then when he needs something, why, he's your best bud and how about that football game last night?  Can you help me make a pie chart?  Yeah, yeah, just put my name there, pal.

As White House reporter Keith Koffler notes, so much about politics is fostering relationships, and that's why it's all crashing down on this White House: "Obama's chickens are coming home to roost."

Extra - From Rich Lowry: "The chickens are coming home to roost in terms of the non-existent White House relationship with Capitol Hill."

Where have you gone, Janeane Garofalo?

Buzzfeed: "14 principled anti-war celebrities we fear may have been kidnapped."  Anyone? Bueller?

Extra - Ed Asner explains it all.

Friday, September 06, 2013

This White House doesn't do plan "B"

Remember this excerpt from Bob Woodward's book about the debt limit showdown?
“Mr. President, I am sorry — with all due respect — that we are in this situation that we’re in, but we got handed this football on Friday night. And I didn’t create this situation. The first thing that baffles me is, from my private-sector experience, the first rule that I’ve always been taught is to have a Plan B. And it is really disheartening that you, that this White House did not have a Plan B.”
Several jaws dropped as the Hill staffer blasted the president to his face.
Now in "Quagmire at Home" James Taranto details how Obama blundered into a fight with Congress without a plan to win authorization:
If we take Obama and Kerry at their word, then the president did not even consider the possibility that Congress would reject his request. Given the haste in which he made the decision and the desultoriness of his own effort to make the case for the request, that is a plausible reading of what happened.
Failing to consider this contingency would be a stunning failure of planning. Although the resolution may yet pass, it is clear by now that any assumption that it would pass easily was a gross misreading of both public and congressional opinion. 
Emphasis in original.  As somebody who subscribes to the Bill Kristol position that a vote against authorization would be terrible for the country, I can't believe how Obama actively sabotages the very goal he claims he wants.  His relationship with Congress is famously rocky but for this critical vote of confidence in his own Presidency, he can't deign to make an effort.  Instead, he does his "red line" walkback that everybody recognizes as yet another attempt to shift blame.

Obama needed Congress to show confidence in the Executive Branch in the face of overwhelming public opinion against an attack in Syria.  Instead, this clown did everything under the sun to make it oh-so-easy to vote against him.  It's a pity this White House couldn't think about the country before its petulant and ill-advised political ploy.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Yup, a speech

The Hill: "Obama needs a game changer to win House vote on Syria."

Hot Air: "America likely to endure Obama address on Syria soon."  "Given the “success” his speeches have had in boosting ObamaCare’s popularity, this should pretty well finish off the “bomb Syria” movement."

This is amateur hour but I suppose anything's better than the plan so far.

Vladimir Putin and the bear

I crack up every time I see this.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The "I didn't do it" Presidency

This is almost tiresomely predictable, but Obama now say that the "red line" he drew on Syria's chemical weapons - why that wasn't his red line at all!

Minuteman follows the bouncing red ball: "The buck stops everywhere."

So that "red line" wasn't drawn by Obama but by Congress and the world and maybe George Bush.  Funny thing, though, is that the White House Press Secretary didn't quite convey their complicity:
We go on to reaffirm that the President has set a clear red line as it relates to the United States that the use of chemical weapons or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups is a red line that is not acceptable to us, nor should it be to the international community.  It's precisely because we take this red line so seriously that we believe there is an obligation to fully investigate any and all evidence of chemical weapons use within Syria.
Emphasis added for credit and/or blame.  In fact, this statement clearly does not include the international community but - hey - now it does.  Because the time has come to seek an accomplice.

Extra - Twitchy: "President Pass-the-Buck."  And there's Legal Insurrection.

More - The Other McCain: "The Sting of the Rodeo Clown 'Red Line'."

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Here come the polls

Hot Air: "Two new polls: Heavy public opposition to U.S. strikes in Syria."  It appears that a lot of Americans share the concern that was raised in Congressional hearings today: mission creep.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Obama is a dumbass. But he's our dumbass.

I've come to the conclusions that it would be a minor disaster if Congress fails to give Obama authorization to lob a couple of cruise missiles at Syria.

It's certainly true that we're in this predicament because President Says Stuff went off-teleprompter and drew a red line that White House aides furiously tried to erase moments after he stepped off the dais.  Then, after lining up his cabinet to support a strike on Syria without Congressional approval (something Senator Obama would condemn) he changed course.  Without support from the U.N. or Great Britain or the Arab League, Obama turned to Congress as a last resort to put a fig leaf of approval on this war.  This wasn't Obama's finest moment.

But what we going to do?  Kneecap our own commander-in-chief?  Assad would laugh his ass off at such a feckless response and the Iranians would know they could pretty much build a nuclear bomb in the middle of Azadi Square with no repercussions.  It seems to me that giving Obama authority to strike Syria is the best-worst option we have.

Extra - Elliott Abrams in Politico: "How not to run a foreign policy."  "Despite this administration’s incompetence, the United States and our allies will be worse off, and our enemies emboldened, if Congress votes no. The time to reject Obama’s failures in foreign and domestic policy is on Election Day 2014, not in the Syria vote."

More - John McCain concurs.  And so does Paul Mirengoff at Power Line.

And this - Byron York notes that Republicans may vote against authorization because they just can't trust Obama.  The force authorization resolution will be significantly narrowed and limited.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

There there, there there

This is Francesca Schiavone getting dominated by Serena Williams at the U.S. Open.  She needed a hug.