Saturday, November 29, 2008

Another one for the squid fanciers

I know you're out there.

This thing is a Magnapinna. ("Big wing" in Latin.) It was photographed by a remotely-operated sub, a mile and a half below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. National Geographic has video, and more photos. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Concerned about "The Mentalist"

I started watching this because I liked the concept, and became a fan because I liked the concept and Simon Baker, whom I remembered from his earlier TV stint as "The Guardian." Probably the thing I find most appealing about the show is Patrick's hard-ass materialism. As a former phony psychic, he can say "There are no real psychics" and mean it, with a not-at-all-concealed undertone of contempt for the fakes who take money from gullible people who wish that they could communicate with the dead. It was only a few years ago that someone who was only one letter away from running for President was doing this on cable TV. Oh dear, he is still doing it.

So I felt a certain trepidation, a trembling in the Force, as it were, when in episode 7 ("Seeing Red"), a "psychic" presumed to give Patrick a message from his murdered wife, about their murdered child:

What I fear is that Baker's character, Patrick Jane, will "grow," in the way that conservatives "grow in office." I fear that he, having begun as a faker, and having repented of his fakery, will now come to see that the phenomena that he had been faking could actually be real.

I don't want to see this version of Patrick Jane as Houdini the fraud-buster turn into yet another "Touched by an Angel." There's more than enough psychic, spiritual, supernatural silliness in popular entertainment. I'm a science-fiction and fantasy reader from away back, and I love playing with unlikely ideas. As you can tell from my subhead, I enjoy "Buffy the Vampire Slayer;" but that does not mean that I am looking out for vampires, and carrying a stake all the time. I'm also a Sherlock Holmes fan, and Jane is as close to Holmes as I've seen in pop culture for quite a while: the character who is more observant than the rest of us, who can spot the things we don't notice and draw (usually) correct conclusions from subtle clues.

Please, Hollywood; there are angels and psychic phenomena all over TV and the movies, Ghost Whisperers and ghost this and that all over the damn place. Let's keep this one series grounded in material reality. It's just more thoughtful fun without the dei ex machinis showing up to send the plot sideways into woo-woo land.

IF there is more depth to the writing than we usually see in TV-land, AND I am just being affected by my own cynicism about television writing in general, THEN maybe I have misinterpreted this bit. I hope so.

Related: "Patrick Jane, flip-flopper?" Political ad satire.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Laughing just to keep from crying

The Ace of Spades has the report right here. And a lot of comments. Here's the video. Your neighbors and mine, and, you know, they vote. That is, they voted! Oh dear oh my.

"Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried." Thanks, Winston Churchill. We could be doing a lot worse. We really could. And might yet.

Cheer up, now, didn't you see in the last post that there's going to be less grumbling around here. Like it or not.

Update: followup on the video at Power Line.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The old salt

There's been altogether too much grumbling around here, and not nearly enough levity. To try to make up for that, here's a joke that came in the email from Gerry:

The Old Salt

There was a ragged, old, retired Submarine Chief who shuffled into a waterfront bar. Stinking of whisky and cigarettes, his hands shook as he took the "Piano Player Wanted" sign from the window and handed it to the bartender. "I'd like to apply for the job," he said.

The barkeep wasn't too sure about this doubtful looking old Squid, but it had been quite a while since he had a piano player and business was falling off. So, the barkeep decided to give him a try.

The old Chief staggered his way over to the piano while several patrons snickered. By the time he was into his third bar of music, every voice was silenced.

What followed was a rhapsody of sound and music, unlike anyone had heard in the bar before. When he finished there wasn't a dry eye in the place.

The bartender took the old Chief a beer and asked him the name of the song he had just played. "It's called 'Drop your Skivvies, Baby, We're Gonna Rock Tonight'," said the old Chief after he took a long pull from the beer.

The bartender and the crowd winced, but the piano player went on with a knee-slapping, hand-clapping bit of ragtime that had the place jumping.

After he finished the Chief acknowledged the applause and told the crowd the song was called, "Big Boobs Make My Anchor Chain Run Out." He then excused himself as he lurched to the head.

When he came out the bartender went over to him and said, "Look Chief, the job is yours, but do you know your fly is open and your pecker is hanging out?"

"Know it?" the old Chief replied, "Hell, I wrote it!"
I think I know that Chief. Or someone a lot like him.

Warming hilarity continues

So the Russians slipped the September numbers into the October slot, and warmingists were so pleased to see an extra-toasty October that they did not notice until after some time had passed and pronouncements of even more nearly impending doom had been made.

Tom Maguire has a roundup from several sources, with a comment thread that goes on for quite a while: The Hunt For A Red-Hot October.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

U-verse post updated

So go there, if that's what you are looking for. I'm thinking I'll keep it all in one post, for ease of reference. For now, anyway.

Some fresh air

A tropical sunrise.

Just to ventilate the place a bit. It was getting stuffy in here.

Even more stale Ayers

On "Good Morning America." Althouse "live-blogs" the first part of the video, and seems to exhibit some buyer's remorse. Hot Air has both segments; did Althouse miss the second part?

It's a book promo! He's promoting his book. And it's a reprint edition at that, of the old book, Fugitive Days. He's trading on his celebrity as an associate of Obama to sell a new edition of his old book about his time as an active terrorist! Wow. What nerve. Or sheer obliviousness, more likely. The man has lived all his life on his father's fortune, while hating his father and his father's/his own whole social class. What a case study he would be for a "talking cure" psychoanalyst! Oh Doctor Freud?

The new book coming is the one with John Brown on the cover, Race Course Against White Supremacy. Whatever that means. Probably something like "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that's where it's really at." But with a little extra bit of racial piquancy, a bit of warm spice to offset the insipid white ingredients. The thing about useful idiots is that they don't realize that they will be among the first to face the firing squads when the revolution really comes.

Oh, my. This election just won't be over for a while.

Do I have to have an Ayers tag? I guess so. Dammit.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Confused scientists don't know which way to spin

The headline: Earth would be heading to a freeze without CO2 emissions

The subhead:

Scheduled shifts in Earth's orbit should plunge the planet into an enduring Ice Age thousands of years from now but the event will probably be averted because of man-made greenhouse gases, scientists said Wednesday.
The first line:
They cautioned, though, that this news is not an argument in favour of global warming, which is driving imminent and potentially far-reaching damage to the climate system.
From the middle:
According to the model, published in the British journal Nature by Crowley and physicist William Hyde of Toronto University, Canada, the next "bifurcation" would normally be due between 10,000 and 100,000 years from now.

The chill would induce a long, stable period of glaciation in the mid-latitudes, smothering Europe, Asia and North America to about 45-50 degrees latitude with a thick sheet of ice.
Love those computer climate models. A little further along:
Crowley cautioned those who would seize on the new study to say "'carbon dioxide is now good, it prevents us from walking the plank into this deep glaciation'."

"We don't want to give people that impression," he said. "(...) You can't use this argument to justify [man-made] global warming."
Certainly not. Grants might be in jeopardy!

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds, who mentions Fallen Angels.

Update: Followup at the NY Times's Dot Earth blog, with comments from the potentially dangerous James Hansen and others. It's all about the models. Carl Wunsch of MIT says some things about models that could be taken either way, though I doubt that's how he meant it:
If I make a four-box model of the world economy, and predict the US stock market level 500 years from now, who would pay any attention? Climate is far more complicated than the world economy, yet supposedly reputable journals are publishing papers that superficially look like science, but which are the sort of thing scientists will speculate about late at night over a few beers. It doesn’t deserve the light of day except as the somewhat interesting mathematical behavior of a grossly over-simplified set of differential equations. Why should anyone take it seriously? The wider credibility of the science is ultimately undermined by such exercises.
Just what the skeptics have been saying all along! Thanks, Dr. Wunsch.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Debunking a Palin smear

Is this the truth under the smear? So "she thought Africa was a country" was a hoax from the beginning.

It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.

Now a pair of obscure filmmakers say they created Martin Eisenstadt to help them pitch a TV show based on the character. But under the circumstances, why should anyone believe a word they say?
I do not anticipate much if anything in the way of apologies from the lefties who seized on this and made much of it.

Second Holy Land Foundation trial ...

drawing near its close.

My first post on the first HLF trial was Islamic fifth column, back in September 2007. The "lawfare" label brings up all of them. Keep current here.

Update Nov 24: Guilty on all counts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Honor rose

If I get another rose bush, it's going to be one of these.

Thanks to Althouse commenter Bissage.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Forty-five inches in Deadwood

Too much of this here global warming going on. It's vital that we shut down all industry now. For the children! Except, you know, the ones in those cars, buried in the snow, out on the highway.

Blizzard pummels South Dakota, stranding motorists

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — As snowfall neared 4 feet in the Black Hills and winds gusting higher than 50 mph continued to howl, state officials had a simple message for anyone thinking of trying to drive in western South Dakota's blizzard: Don't.

And they stressed that the storm, which stranded an unknown numbers of motorists and knocked out power to thousands, would keep causing problems as it moves eastward Friday.

"This is a dangerous storm," Gov. Mike Rounds told reporters in a telephone conference call Thursday evening. "Western South Dakota is basically under a no-travel advisory."

Officials closed a long stretch of Interstate 90, where dozens of vehicles were trapped. Some motorists have been stranded for more than 24 hours, Rounds said, noting that search teams can't get to them because of zero visibility.

"We cannot see a thing in many areas where we're out actually searching for people," said Tom Dravland, state Public Safety secretary, adding that the top speed for some rescue crews was as little as a half-mile per hour.
Solar power, that's what's needed here.

All right, enough snark, seriously now: Since Obama's soon to be in power, and his base is in the cities and on the coasts, will it look like a sensible move to the new administration simply to abandon the interior? For the Deep Greens like Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd, that's a goal. Sort of like "charity begins at home." Population reduction can begin in places where people need power from coal to keep from freezing to death. Knock out the coal, and the project is begun.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dems coming after 401(k) accounts

Next session, they'll have a bigger majority.

House Dems Contemplating the Elimination of 401(K) Tax Breaks

Congratulations, President-elect Obama

H.L. Mencken: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard."

Perry de Havilland is optimistic. Commenters, not so much (via). Me, I look forward to four years of no complaining from Democrats. (Yeah, right.) Oh, yes, and an upbeat press that sees only the silver linings.


Updates, added as I see them:

JRM, at Patterico's, has an open letter with a few suggestions for Obama: Good Luck to the President-Elect.

Steven Den Beste says it's not the end of the world: "the US is too large and too strong to destroy in just 4 years. Or even in 8. We survived 6 years of Nixon. We survived 4 years of Carter.… One other good thing: no one will be spinning grand conspiracy theories about this administration's Vice President being an evil, conniving genius who is the true power behind the throne." There's more.

Neo-Neocon has some post-election reflections, which give rise to a (mostly) thoughtful comment thread.

Mencius Moldbug is less sanguine: "Basically, dear Americans, this disqualifies you from voting ever again. You've been pwned. You're out." If you click through to his post, be sure to click again on his link to IvyGate, where his question, did Obama actually attend classes at Columbia, is mocked, but not answered.

Peter Hitchens says, among other things, that "the US, like Britain before it, has begun the long slow descent into the Third World." (via Ghost of a Flea.)

Dave Barry thinks that "we, as a nation, need to drink more martinis." Hear, hear!

Monday, November 3, 2008

"Why isn’t Detroit a Paradise?"

Asks Shannon Love at ChicagoBoyz. The answer: Obama type policies and union rule. I have not had many if any links here on Obama's policy on card check, the so-called Employee Free Choice Act, which Obama has promised to sign on sight. This would, along with some other things, eliminate the election part of the process when employees of a company are deciding whether to unionize or not.

Via Glenn Reynolds.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"So long, Bill of Rights"

Glenn Richter has a wrap-up column in Sunday's Meriden, Conn. Record-Journal that hits a lot of the Obama low points. An excerpt:

So long, Bill of Rights

Well, it's almost over now. On Tuesday, we're going to pick a new president, and I think I know who he is. He's smart, he's sophisticated, he's young, he's eloquent. And - most important of all - he's cool.

Oh, and he doesn't believe in the Bill of Rights. Other than that, he's just terrific.

He said it himself, calmly and clearly, on Chicago Public Radio station WBEZ-FM on Sept. 6, 2001. He faulted the Earl Warren Supreme Court (which many consider radical) for not being radical enough, in that it "didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution."

Not "violate," not "nullify," but "break free."

And what "essential constraints" are those? The only ones in there: the separation of powers and the Bill of Rights - you know, the hard-won protections against tyranny that, for 200-plus years, have stood between us and the miserable fates of countless other nations, from France in 1789 to Russia in 1917 to China in 1949 to Zimbabwe today. The law that tells government what it cannot do to us is what he wants to flush down the toilet.

So we're going to turn this whole country upside down - because Barack Obama is cool.

Did somebody say "personality cult"?

And soon he'll be in a position to do all the breaking free he wants, when he appoints oodles of new federal judges and probably several Supreme Court justices as well, with a bulletproof majority in the Senate to get them confirmed.

Freedom of speech? Freedom of the press? Ha! His comrade Nancy Pelosi is already planning to take care of those little problems with the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," which is designed to rein in the only segment of the mass media her party doesn't already have in its pocket: talk radio. (Controlling the blogosphere will be harder, but where there's a will, there's a way.)

The right to bear arms? Don't worry: "Commonsense regulation" will take care of that one.
There's more.

Stolen elections

Althouse had a post on this the other day. The post was brief, but the comment thread ran on for a while, and included a nice round-up on the subject by Michael McNeil, who has a highly interesting blog of his own, Impearls. I was especially pleased by his post on the Antikythera Mechanism, which combines techno-archaeology with sf.

Update: another Althouse post on election-stealing, this one about the Norm Coleman - Al Franken race for US Senate in Minnesota. It's happening before your eyes! CNN has numbers.

Update to the update: Coleman vs. Franken is in recount. CNN's numbers are not the ones you want any more; current numbers are coming from the Star-Tribune.
There's another squeaker in Irving, Texas. "The fight for Texas House District 105 isn't over. As expected, Democratic challenger Bob Romano said Tuesday afternoon that he plans to seek a recount in his bid for the seat that covers most of Irving. He trailed three-term Republican incumbent Linda Harper-Brown by only 20 votes after all provisional and overseas votes were accepted Monday."

And another close one in Alaska, and another in Georgia. After watching the Washington state governor's race last time, all of this feels like more of the same: ballots turning up in the trunks of cars, in offices here and there, and they are always votes for the Democrat candidate. I have no kind feelings for Sen. Stevens of Alaska. If he's re-elected, he'll have to resign tout de suite. But I would like to see an honest count.

And see below, Questions about Obama's fundraising.
Updates: Stevens has lost; the Georgia race will go to a run-off.

Still more stale Ayers

More of William Ayers's writings from the past are coming to light. Prairie Fire, the Weather Underground manifesto, is available now from Little Green Footballs in .pdf form.

Maybe Prairie Fire is Manifesto 2.0. At Streetlog (which seems to be a brand-new repository of Weather Underground documents) is the original Weatherman manifesto: You Don’t Need A Weatherman To Know Which Way The Wind Blows, from 1969. By Ayers, Dohrn and number of others.

Zombie has found the Spring 1975 first issue of the Weather Underground newspaper, Osawatomie. What? It's a town in Kansas, and, more importantly, a nickname of John Brown, an early terrorist who used the anti-slavery cause as his excuse for murder and arson. And Procrustes at The Real Barack Obama has found the second issue, and written a post discussing both.